Hepatology and Gastroenterology Section, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, St Mary's Hospital Campus, London, UK.
Cholangiocarcinoma is the second most common liver cancer in the world. The aetiology of the disease is diverse incorporating a variety of conditions leading to biliary stasis, biliary and liver inflammation, but a large number of cases still occur in the absence of established risk factors. Its incidence and mortality is increasing, which has intensified the search for alternative aetiological agents and pathogenetic mechanisms. Chronic infection with hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses are the primary risk factor for hepatocellular cancer. This review focuses on the epidemiological evidence of a role for these viruses in cholangiocarcinoma and the pathogenetic mechanisms that might be involved.