Bile Duct Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms and treatment of bile duct cancer

The bile duct is long tube-like structure in human body that joins the liver to the intestine and carries bile from the liver to the intestine. The top half of the bile duct is related with the liver while the bottom half of the bile duct is related to the pancreas. Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that happens in the bile duct, the tube that joins the liver and the gallbladder to the small intestine. Learn more about bile duct cancer and symptoms and treatment of bile duct cancer here.

Bile duct cancer symptoms and treatment

Bile duct cancer generally begins in a type of tissue called glandular tissue and is known as adenocarcinoma. If the cancer starts in the component of the bile duct within the liver, it is known as intra-hepatic bile duct cancer and if it starts in the region of the bile ducts outside the liver it’s known as extra-hepatic bile duct cancer.

Causes of bile duct cancer

The cause of bile duct cancer is unidentified although people with chronic inflammatory processes like ulcerative colitis or parasitic infections of the bile ducts or with hereditary abnormalities of the bile ducts are at high risk for developing this cancer. No single cause has been clearly attributed to bile duct cancer.

Bile duct symptoms

The symptoms of bile duct cancer consist of yellowing of the skin, pain in the abdomen, fever and itching, dark yellow urine, pale colored feces, loss of appetite and feeling sick, weight loss and fatigue. When bile duct cancer grows in the bile ducts it may obstruct the flow of bile from the liver to the intestine and causes the bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues, and leads to jaundice. As the bile duct cancer spreads further, pain regularly develops in the upper part of the abdomen and sometimes even spreads to the back.

Bile duct cancer also causes nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss and weakness in the patients. Tumors formed can stop the normal passage of food or hamper with its absorption by jamming the flow of pancreatic enzymes. Bloating, weight loss, decreased appetite, fever are therefore signs that may be indicative to bile duct cancer. Pain typically signifies advanced disease stage and early bile duct cancers generally do not cause pain. Usually the main symptoms from bile duct cancer are weight loss and fatigue and jaundice may occur at a later stage.

Treatment of bile duct cancer

Treatments for bile duct cancer differ with the size of the tumor and its stage. Among the treatment options there are many ways to treat the bile duct cancer like surgery, radiation therapy, liver transplantation, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy and biliary drainage. In the cases where the bile duct cancer cannot be fully removed but has not stretched outside the liver, liver transplantation may be an option.

If the bile duct tumor is successfully removed completely by the surgical procedures the other cancer treatment options like chemotherapy or radiation therapy can destroy the remaining cancer cells improving the chances of total healing. But if the bile duct tumor is not removed totally then a combination of these treatments is used. The efficiency of the combinational therapy is not clear and certain and the complete removal of the tumor is the only clear and potentially curative treatment for cancers of the bile duct.

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