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Bile Duct Cancer

Bile duct cancer describes a type of cancer that forms in the bile ducts (slender tubes) that carry the digestive fluid bile through the liver. Bile duct cancer is also referred to as cholangiocarcinoma.

There are two major types of bile duct tumors:

  • Distal bile duct tumors: Tumors affecting the bottom half of the bile duct, which is associated with the pancreas
  • Klatskin's tumors: Tumors affecting the upper part of the bile duct, which is associated with the liver

The distinction between the two types of tumors is important since bile duct cancer treatment​ is based on the tumor location.

Risk Factors for Bile Duct Cancer

Risk factors for bile duct cancer include:

  • Individuals over the age of 65
  • Family history of bile duct cancer
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Chronic inflammation of the bile ducts (bile duct stones)
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Parasitic infection (liver fluke, Clonorchis sinesis and Opistorchis viverrini, which are common in Asia and the Middle East)
  • Exposure to certain hazardous chemicals, including radon, asbestos, dioxins and thorotrast

Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer

Often, bile duct cancer does not cause symptoms during early stages. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms may included:

  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin
  • Generalized itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Low grade fever
  • Vague abdominal pain
  • Light colored stools

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek proper evaluation and treatment from a health care expert experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatobiliary cancers.

Expert Care You Can Trust

Hoag Family Cancer Institute, in close collaboration with physician specialists and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, continue to lead the way in complex hepatobiliary cancer care, providing access to a multidisciplinary team of experts, including a highly specialized surgical team that provide academic-level care. Hoag’s committed to accurate diagnosis, combined with progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes in the nation.

To schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion consultation with a Hoag expert, call us at 949-764-5350.