Living with Bile Duct (Cholangiocarcinoma) Cancer

Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) is cancer of the bile ducts, the small tubes that carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. Bile duct cancers are grouped according to where along the length of the duct the cancer occurs: intrahepatic bile duct cancers form in the duct branches still inside the liver; perihilar bile duct cancers form in the ducts just outside the liver; and distal bile duct cancers form in the portion of the ducts close to the small intestine. Fewer than 3,000 new cases of bile duct cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States; survival rates vary depending on the stage at which the cancer is caught.

Two thirds of bile duct cancer cases are diagnosed in patients over the age of 65. Other risk factors include: inflammation and scar tissue formation in the ducts; bile duct stones and cysts; some liver diseases; obesity; and family history. Early stage bile duct cancer usually does not present symptoms. Later stage symptoms include fever, weight loss, abdominal pain, jaundice, and itchy skin. The stages of bile duct cancer range from zero to IV, and treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these.

For more information on bile duct cancer, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.

If you have been affected by bile duct cancer, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions.

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