Biliary tract cancers (BTCs) include a heterogeneous group of highly aggressive hepatobiliary malignancies, representing the 3% of all gastrointestinal cancers and the second most frequent type of primary liver cancer after hepatocellular carcinoma. Ten years after the publication of the phase III, randomized, ABC-02 trial, the combination of cisplatin plus gemcitabine remains the standard first-line treatment for patients with advanced BTC. In the last decade, a large number of attempts has been made to improve the efficacy of the reference doublet by using novel drugs or adding a third agent to cisplatin-gemcitabine. Unfortunately, despite the addition of different cytotoxic drugs failed to improve clinical outcomes in several studies, recently published clinical trials have provided interesting results, and other first-line chemotherapy options are currently under investigation in randomized phase III studies. Moreover, recent years have witnessed the parallel emergence of molecularly targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors, with these novel agents having the potential to revolutionize the therapeutic algorithm of advanced BTC. In this review, we will provide an overview on first-line therapeutic opportunities currently available in the management of advanced BTCs, especially focusing on recently published data and ongoing clinical trials in this setting.
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