Bile duct Cancer

Bile duct Cancer

Bile duct Cancer

What is Bile duct Cancer?

Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells that take over neighbouring cells and tissues and, at later stages, also spread to organs. When such cells start at the bile duct, they cause bile duct cancer.

Anatomy of Bile duct


Copyright © Terese Winslow, U.S. Govt, The above image is used for educational purpose only.

What are the general symptoms of Bile duct Cancer?
  • Jaundice
  • Itching
  • Light-colored/greasy stools
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal (belly) pain
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
What are the general causes of Bile duct cancer?

Every type of Cancer has risk factors, but they don’t tell us everything. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors.

People who have chronic (long-standing) inflammation of the bile ducts have an increased risk of developing bile duct cancer. Several conditions of the liver or bile ducts can cause this.

  • Certain liver/bile duct diseases:
    • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
    • Bile duct stones
    • Choledochal cysts
    • Liver fluke infections
    • Abnormalities where the bile duct and pancreatic duct normally meet
    • Cirrhosis
    • Infection withhepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Older age - Most people diagnosed with bile duct cancer are in their 60s or 70s.
    • Obesity
    • Exposure to Thorotrast (radioactive substance)
    • Family history
    • Diabetes
    • Alcohol intake poses a higher risk.
    • Other possible risk factors
    • Smoking
    • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
    • Infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
    • Exposure to asbestos
    • Exposure to radon or other radioactive chemicals
    • Exposure to dioxin, nitrosamines, or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Can Bile duct Cancer be prevented?

Bile duct cancer be prevented to a certain extent by avoiding the risk factors. Other measures that may bbe taken include:


  • Vaccination against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to prevent infection with this virus and the cirrhosis it can cause.
  • Precautions to avoid blood-borne or sexually transmitted infections by HBV and other viruses (like hepatitis C virus) to help prevent cirrhosis.
  • Treatment of hepatitis infections (such as B and C) to help prevent cirrhosis.
  • Avoidance of excessive alcohol use to help prevent cirrhosis.
  • Quit (or don’t start) smoking.
What are the stages of Bile duct cancer?

Cancer has different stages, each depicted by a Roman numeral from 1 to 4 (I, II, III and IV). Stage I is the first stage where the tumor is still small while at Stage IV, the patient’s condition is said to be critical because the tumor has spread to other organs of the body. Hence, a cancer’s stage refers to the tumor’s size and extent of spread. This is the simplest form of staging.


In Bile duct cancer, the stage depends on whether it is confined to bile duct(localized cancer, Stage I) or whether it has spread to other organs (metastatic cancer).

The stage decides the kind of treatment you need to get. The greater the stage number, the more complex the treatment.

Survival rates on of Bile duct cancer?

Needless to say, if the cancer is detected while it is still in Stage I, survival rate is higher. The rate decreases progressively with the increase in stage. Stage III is considered critical, while stage IV is, more often than not, fatal. For all cases of bile duct cancer combined

However, medicine is evolving everyday to meet these challenges and to keep you happy, healthy and alive!

Can Bile duct Cancer be detected early?

Only a small number of bile duct cancers are found early. This is because the tumour forms deep inside the body and hence, routine physical examination doesn’t help much.

What are the Treatments available?

Based on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors, primary treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy

Treatment is based on the type of tumor and other factors, and often more than one type of treatment is used. Discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your treatment team to help make the decision that best fits your needs.

How frequently should one visit doctor for early diagnosis?

If you have any of the symptoms, please do visit the doctor.

How can I as a patient know it early?

If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned in the Symptoms section you should probably visit a doctor.

All matter is for informational purposes only and has been collated from and Zuvius Lifesciences does not claim authorship of the above.

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