Also known as cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that occurs as a result of cancer cells forming in the bile ducts.
The bile ducts are a series of networks of tubes that carry bile, a digestive juice, from the liver, where it is produced, to the gallbladder, where it is stored. Bile is sent to the gut via ducts from the gallbladder, where it aids in digestion.
Bile duct cancer typically develops in the bile ducts that are located outside of the liver. Rarely does the malignancy manifest itself in hepatic ducts.
There are mainly two types of bile duct cancer:
It is not yet established the exact cause of bile duct cancer. However, it is thought that chronic parasite infections and bile duct inflammation are likely to be contributing factors. Other risk factors of bile duct cancer include:
To diagnose bile duct cancer. the doctor conducts a physical examination of the patient, then blood tests to look for tumor markers and to check how well the patient’s liver is functioning are also performed. Other tests include:
Treatment for bile duct cancer is determined by the location and size of the patient’s tumor, the extent to which it has spread, and the state of his/her overall health.
With early diagnosis, when the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the patient’s liver, surgical treatment becomes the recommended option. Occasionally, if the tumor is confined to the bile duct, the patient may only need to have the ducts removed. However, if the malignancy has spread beyond the ducts and into the liver, only part or the entire liver will have to be removed.
Bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare type of cancer that affects the bile ducts, which are tubes that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine.
Risk factors for developing bile duct cancer include age, gender, chronic inflammation of the bile ducts, exposure to certain chemicals, and certain medical conditions such as primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Symptoms of bile duct cancer can include jaundice, abdominal pain, and weight loss. Diagnosis may involve imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans, biopsy, or blood tests.
Treatment for bile duct cancer may involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these depending on the stage of the cancer and the individual patient's needs.