Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma Bile Duct Cancer

Submitted by Nic on November 20, 2012

Cholangiocarcinoma bile duct cancer is a malignant cancer that affects bile ducts. In this condition, malignant and often inoperable tumors begin to surface inside or outside the bile duct. The bile duct is the tube that enables the flow of bile created in the liver to the small intestines.

This is a rare disease seen usually in older adults, above the age of 65 years. This slow growing tumor usually does not metastasize very quickly, but survival rates are low despite the improved medical care and treatment options.

Causes of Cholandiocarcinoma Bile Duct Cancer

Like most other cancers, the causes of cholangiocarcinoma bile duct cancer are not always clear. Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer, and the incidence is only 1 in 50,000. However, doctors have been able to find certain risk factors that increase the probability of developing this cancer. Some of these risks include:

  • Cholescoldal cysts in the bile ducts
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Parasitic worms
  • Ulcerative colitis

What Are the Signs that Signal Cholangiocarcinoma Bile Duct Cancer?

Cholangiocarcinoma bile duct cancer symptoms are often very difficult to identify because they are generally mild. A person may experience chills accompanied with mild to severe pain in the side. Additionally, there may be off colored stools, itching, weight loss, back pain, and appetite loss. If the cancer affects the liver, the person may also experience severe and prolonged jaundice. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate cholangiocarcinoma bile duct cancer treatment depending on your symptoms and the stage your cancer is in. Your doctor will also recommend some tests such as an abdominal scan, a biopsy directed by a CT scan, an ultrasound of the abdomen, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, cytology, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, and percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram. Liver function tests may also be included in the panel of tests recommended by the doctor.

How is the condition treated?

The treatment goal for this kind of cancer is to remove any blockage to the liver, reduce the severity of the symptoms, and perform surgery in order to get rid of the tumor. The tumors often get large and begin pressing on the liver. In such a case, a liver transplant may be the only treatment option.

Surgery and resectioning is the most common treatment for this type of cancer. Other treatment methods include the standard treatments for cancer such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and endoscopic therapy. A stent is usually placed in the liver or the bile duct to relieve the blockages temporarily. This may relieve jaundice, but additional therapy is required for effective treatment of the condition.


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