What is Bile Duct Cancer – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The bile duct cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer 1–2 cases per 100,000 (2000-3000 cases) incidences every year in the Western world. It is technically known as Cholangiocarcinoma. Surgery is the only cure for this cancer if the tumor is diagnosed and removed completely in early stages. Unfortunately, in most of the cases, the disease is diagnosed in its advanced stage. It is considered to spread rapidly and is thus incurable. This article tries to gain further insight on the dreadful form of cancer.

Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Swollen liver
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in stool or urine color
  • Itching
  • Jaundice

Blood tests, endoscopy, imaging and sometimes surgical exploration are required to confirm the above mentioned signs of this cancer. A technique known as Immunohistochemistry is available which distinguishes the cancer from its pre and post metastasis stages.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a condition involving swelling of the bile duct. It increases the risk of developing the cancer of bile duct by 10-15 percent. The exact mechanism is yet to be understood. Pateints suffering from alcoholic liver disease, HIV infection, Caroli’s syndrome and Lynch syndrome 2 also are at the risk of developing this condition.

In the recent times, new cases of this disease are reportedly on the rise in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The reason for the rise of this cancer in recent times is not known yet.

Treatment of Bile Duct Cancer:

If the tumor is removed completely by surgery, existing cancer treatment options like chemotherapy or radiation therapy can kill the remaining rogue cells improving the chances of total cure.

If the tumor is not removed completely, then a combination of these treatments is applied. The effectiveness of this combinational therapy is not clear.

Targeted therapy and photo dynamic therapy are two treatment techniques which are undergoing research trails yet.

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