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About bile duct cancer

Bile duct cancer requires expert care. Know your options.

Bile duct cancer is a rare disease, accounting for 10 to 20 percent of all liver cancers. It may cause symptoms such as jaundice, itching, abdominal pain and weight loss. The vast majority of these cancers are known as cholangiocarcinomas. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 8,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with bile duct cancer annually. The organization notes that because this type of cancer may be hard to diagnose and may be misclassified as another cancer type, the number of cases may actually be greater.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our oncologists are trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating bile duct cancers. Our multidisciplinary teams of cancer experts will evaluate the disease to determine its type and stage, using the information to tailor a treatment plan to your needs and diagnosis.

Treatment options for bile duct cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, gastroenterology procedures and, in some cases, novel investigative approaches. The size and location of each patient’s tumor(s) help determine the patient’s personalized treatment plan.

Typically, surgery is an option for patients whose cancers can be removed, which depends on the tumor’s size and location.

Radiation therapy
Radiation treatments for bile duct cancer is use targeted approaches to kill cancer cells and spare as much healthy tissue as possible.

Gastroenterology procedures
Several gastrointestinal (GI) procedures may be recommended for bile duct cancer treatment.

Learn more about treatments for bile duct cancer

Bile duct cancer is a rare disease that begins in the bile ducts, thin tubes that transport digestive fluid, known as bile, from the liver and gallbladder into the small intestine. The exact location of the primary tumor (inside or outside the liver) and the kind of cell involved in the development of this disease determines the type of bile duct cancer.

An estimated 8,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a bile duct cancer annually, according to the American Cancer Society. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, a type of bile duct cancer that develops in the cells that line the small bile ducts within the liver, accounts for 10 percent to 20 percent of cancers that start in the liver. When bile duct tumors block the flow of bile and bilirubin from the liver, a person with this disease may exhibit jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes. The disease may cause other symptoms such as itching, abdominal pain and weight loss. Due to the location of the bile ducts deep inside the body, these tumors are rarely caught early. Surgery is typically the first line of treatment.

Next topic: What are the risk factors for bile duct cancer?

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