Bile Duct Cancer

A network of tubes, called ducts connects the liver, gallbladder and small intestine. This network begins in the liver where many small ducts collect bile (a fluid made by the liver to break down fats during digestion). The small ducts come together to form the right and left hepatic ducts, which lead out of the liver. The two ducts join outside the liver and form the common hepatic duct. The cystic duct connects the gallbladder to the common hepatic duct. Bile from the liver passes through the hepatic ducts, common hepatic duct, and into the small intestine. Small amount of bile pass through the cystic duct and is stored in the gallbladder.
When food is being digested, bile from the liver and the gall bladder is released and passes through the common bile duct and into the small intestine.
Bile duct cancer is also called cholangiocarcinoma.
Anatomy of the intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts. Intrahepatic bile ducts are a network of small tubes that carry bile inside the liver. The smallest ducts, called ductules, come together to form the right hepatic bile duct and the left hepatic bile duct, which drain bile from the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is released when food is being digested.

Bile duct cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the bile ducts.

There are two types of bile duct cancer:

The risks of bile duct cancer.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors does not mean that you will not get cancer.
Risk factors for bile duct cancer include the following conditions:

Signs of bile duct cancer include jaundice and pain in the abdomen.

These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by bile duct cancer or by other conditions. Download the app Obur Health PA and request a free consultation provided by a spif you have the following:

Tests that examine the bile ducts and nearby organs are used to detect (find), diagnose, and stage bile duct cancer.

The process used to find out if cancer cells have spread within and around the bile ducts or to distant parts of the body is called staging.
In order to plan treatment, it is important to know if the bile duct cancer can be removed by surgery.
The following tests and procedures may be used:

Different procedures may be used to obtain a sample of tissue and diagnose bile duct cancer.

Cells and tissues are removed during a biopsy so they can be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. Different procedures may be used to obtain the sample of cells and tissue. The type of procedure used depends on whether the patient is well enough to have surgery.
Types of biopsy procedures include the following:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

The results of diagnostic and staging tests are used to find out if cancer cells have spread.

The process used to find out if cancer has spread to other parts of the body is call staging. For bile duct cancer, the information gathered from test and procedures is used to plan treatment, including whether the tumor can be removed by surgery.

There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymphatic channels, and the blood:

Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. Cancer cells break away from where they began (the primary tumor) and travel through the lymph system or blood. The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if bile duct cancer spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually bile duct cancer cells.

The following are used to plan treatment:

Resectable (localized) bile duct cancer
The cancer is localized to the area, such as the lower part of the common bile duct or perihilar area, where it can be removed completely by surgery.
Unresectable, metastatic, or recurrent bile duct cancer
Unresectable cancer cannot be removed completely by surgery. Some patients with bile duct cancer cannot have their cancer completely removed by surgery because it has spread to other organs or invaded nearby vital structures such as the main blood vessels
Recurrent bile duct cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been removed. The cancer may come back in the bile ducts, liver, or gallbladder. Less often, it may come back in distant parts of the body.

Treatment Option Overview

Three types of standard treatment are used:


The following types of surgery are used to treat bile duct cancer:
After the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.
The following types of palliative surgery may be done to relieve symptoms caused by a blocked bile duct and improve quality of life:

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
There are two types of radiation therapy:
External and internal radiation therapy are used to treat bile duct cancer.
It is not yet known whether external radiation therapy helps in the treatment of resectable bile duct cancer. In unresectable, metastatic or recurrent bile duct cancer, new ways to improve the effect of external radiation therapy on cancer cells are being studied:


Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy).
Systemic chemotherapy is used to treat unresectable, metastatic, or recurrent bile duct cancer. It is not yet known whether systemic chemotherapy helps in the treatment of resectable bile duct cancer.

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Liver transplant

In a liver transplant, the entire liver is removed and replaced with a healthy donated liver. A liver transplant may be done in patients with peri-hilar bile duct cancer using strict protocol. If the patient has to wait for a donated liver, other treatment is given as needed.
However, Liver transplantation is not recommended as a result of high recurrence rate after transplant.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests.
Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.

Next steps

If you need further information and obtain a second opinion please download the app "Obur Health PA" from the App Store or call 832-730-4479
download on the app store or call 832-730-4479