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Bile Duct Cancer
Bile duct cancer or Cholangiocarcinoma is rare form of cancer. It forms in the bile duct, which are a series of thin tubes that goes from the liver to the small intestine.

The bile ducts main work is to move a fluid called bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it helps in the digestion process.

In any part of the bile duct system cancers can develop. They are classified into three types:
  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancers – affecting the bile ducts which are located with the liver.
  • Perihilar (also called hilar) bile duct cancers – located at the notch of the liver where the bile ducts exit
  • Distal bile duct cancers – Far outside of the liver near where the bile ducts enter the intestine.
Bile duct cancer is a slow growing cancer. This cancer increases with age. It invades local structures and thus diagnosis for this disease is usually made at the last stage when the bile ducts become blocked. Thus bile drainage from the liver into the gallbladder and intestine is not possible. Depending upon where the blockage has taken place, this can lead to inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) and/or pancreas (pancreatitis).

The first symptoms of bile duct cancer happen because of inability of bile to drain normally from the liver where it is produced. This causes liver inflammation (hepatitis). Bile duct cancer symptoms include yellow colouring of the skin and eyes, pain in the abdominal, bloating and weight loss, slight fever, urine and stool colour darkens. Physical examination and history of the patents are the main clues for diagnosis of bile duct cancer. Final confirmation is obtained by doing biopsy on the tissue sample. Biopsy is done using a microscope to examine the tissue sample.

With the bile duct not being able to flow into the gallbladder and intestine it results in the infection of the bile drainage system. Inflammation and obstruction of bile ducts Cirrhosis can develop in bile duct cancer. This is especially true in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis. Both cirrhosis and sclerosing cholangitis are listed as potential risk factors for bile duct cancer.

Treatment for Bile Duct Cancer can be done by:
  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy and
  • Chemotherapy
If bile duct cancer is untreated the patients has 50% chance of survival in the 1st year, 20% in second year and 10% on third year but no survival is possible in 5 years.

If the tumour is fully removed survival chances increases but this depends on where the tumour is located.