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Extrahepatic Biliary Obstruction Caused by Small-Cell Lung Cancer

DAVID H. JOHNSON, M.D.; JOHN D. HAINSWORTH, M.D.; and F. ANTHONY GRECO, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by grant R25CA19429 from the National Institutes of Health, and grant JFCF 714 from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Johnson is a Junior Faculty Clinical Fellow of the American Cancer Society.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to David H. Johnson, M.D.; Division of Medical Oncology, A-2127 Vanderbilt Medical Center; Nashville, TN 37232.


Nashville, Tennessee


©1985 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1985;102(4):487-490. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-102-4-487
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Twelve patients with small-cell lung cancer seen during a 30-month period had jaundice at diagnosis. Five patients had a pancreatic metastasis resulting in extrahepatic biliary obstruction, and seven had diffuse hepatic metastases without extrahepatic obstruction. All patients with pancreatic masses had complete (or nearly complete) resolution of jaundice and abdominal pain within 3 weeks of starting chemotherapy. Patients with extensive liver metastases usually remained icteric in spite of intensive treatment. Three patients with pancreatic metastases survived more than 12 months after the institution of therapy. No patient presenting with jaundice caused solely by hepatic metastases survived beyond 8 months. Small-cell lung cancer can present with jaundice due to diffuse hepatic parenchymal involvement, which is associated with a poor prognosis, or as a result of extrahepatic biliary obstruction, which has potential for rapid palliation and prolonged survival.

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