What is Bile Duct Cancer

What bile duct Cancer

Bile tract cancer is cancer that starts in the bile ducts. Its important to understand what is bile duct to understand this cancer which is described below.

What is bile duct?

The bile duct is a thin tube, 4-5 inches long, extends from the liver to the small intestine. The main function of the bile duct is to move a fluid called bile from the liver and gall bladder to the small intestine where it helps digest fats in foods. The bile duct passes through the pancreas before it flows into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), there pancreatic duct also enters the small intestine.

Symptoms of bile duct Cancer:

The most common symptoms of bile duct cancer are:

• Fever

• Inflammation of the liver

• The color changes in stool or urine

• Abdominal pain

• Vomiting

• Jaundice

• Weight Loss

• Nausea

• Itching

Types of bile duct cancer

Cancer can develop in any part of the bile duct and, depending on their location, is divided into three groups:

1. Cancer of the intrahepatic bile ducts: These cancers are from small branches of the bile duct in the liver. Sometimes confused with cancer that originates in the liver cells, known as liver cancer and is often treated the same way. Only 1 in 10 cancers are of the intrahepatic bile ducts.

2. Perihilar (also called hilar) types of biliary duct cancer: The cancer occurs in the hilus – in the hepatic ducts have joined and are just leaving the liver. They are also called Klatskin tumors. This is the most common type of cancer of the bile ducts.

3. Distal bile duct cancer: This type of bile duct cancer is lower in the bile duct near the small intestine. Because they are outside of the liver bile ducts, these cancers also known as cancer of the extrahepatic bile duct.

Cancer in these areas may produce different symptoms.

Resectable (operable) bile duct cancer

This includes most stage 0, I, II and cancer and possibly some types of cancer in stage III, but also depends on the location of the cancer and general health of a person. Surgery to remove the cancer is best treatment if possible. The type of operation depends on the location and extent of cancer.

Unresectable bile duct cancer

This includes most forms of cancer at stage III and IV and certain cancers at an early stage if a person is not healthy enough for surgery. It is not known if the cancer is inoperable, chemotherapy and / or radiation therapy can be used for the first time to try to reduce cancer and resectable. Surgery can be done to try to remove the cancer.

The treatment of bile duct cancer

After bile duct cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team to discuss the best treatment for patients. It is important that you take the time and think about alternatives. While choosing a treatment plan, there are some factors to consider:

• The location and extent of cancer

• If the tumor is resectable (surgically removed)

• Side effects of treatment

• Your general health

• The chances of curing the disease, prolong life or relieve symptoms

If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion, especially for a rare cancer and cancer of the bile ducts.

If the tumor is resectable, surgery is generally the main type of treatment for cancer of the bile duct as it provides a reasonable opportunity to cure the cancer. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be given after surgery in some cases, or may be used as an alternative for surgery. In rare cases of liver transplantation can also be an option.


There are two general types of surgeries performed for biliary tract cancer – potentially curative surgery and palliative surgery.

Liver transplantation: For selected patients with inoperable cancer of the intrahepatic or perihilar bile duct, removing the channels of the liver and bile of donor liver transplantation may be an option. In some cases, it can also cure cancer.


Radiation therapy is treatment with high-energy rays or particles that destroy cancer cells. There are various types of radiation therapy.

External radiation therapy (radiotherapy)

This type of therapy uses X-rays from a machine outside the patient’s body to kill cancer cells. This is the most common form of radiotherapy for cancer of the bile ducts.

Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy)

This treatment uses small pellets of radioactive material placed directly beside or cancer. The radiation travels a very short distance, which affects the cancer without causing much damage to surrounding healthy tissue.


Radiotherapy can be used in different ways to treat bladder cancer:

After surgery for resectable cancer: This is called adjuvant therapy. The purpose is to kill all the small deposits of cancer cells that remain after surgery. Radiation therapy is often administered with chemotherapy drug called 5-fluorouracil (5 – FU), which may make radiation more effective. This is called chemoradiation.


Chemotherapy is treatment with anticancer drugs given into a vein or by mouth. These drugs enter the bloodstream and reach all areas of the body, making this treatment of certain cancers that have spread to organs outside the bile duct.

Because the drugs reach all areas of the body is called a systemic treatment.

For some people with biliary tract cancer, treatment can remove or destroy cancer.

End of treatment can be both exhausting and exhilarating. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but it’s hard not to worry about cancer coming back. The is a widespread concern among people who had cancer.

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