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Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer)

Published on Sep 08, 2021   -  4 min read


Cholangiocarcinoma, cancer affecting the bile ducts, causes jaundice in patients. Read this article to know more.

Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer)

Overview: Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of cancer that can occur in the bile ducts. The other name for cholangiocarcinoma is bile duct cancer. It is a very rare type of cancer. We have to understand the anatomy and functions of the bile duct to know about cholangiocarcinoma in a better way. There are many medical conditions that can affect the bile duct, but the cancer of the bile duct is the most severe one.

What Is the Bile Duct?

The bile duct is a very thin tube that is known to enter the small intestine from the liver. The important function of the bile duct is to produce a fluid called bile. This bile is required for the digestive process. The structure of the bile duct can be roughly classified into two halves. The upper half of the bile duct is known to be associated with the liver, and the lower half of the bile duct is associated with the pancreas.

What Is Bile Duct Cancer?

Cancer that is known to develop in the bile duct is called in medical terms as cholangiocarcinoma. If cancer occurs in the bile duct, there will be a total dysfunction of the secretions in the bile duct. This type of cancer can occur at any age. Cholangiocarcinoma is classified based on its site of occurrence. They are:

What Are the Causes of Cholangiocarcinoma?

The precise cause for cholangiocarcinoma is still under medical research. Certain reports have proved that genetic mutations cause cholangiocarcinoma. The parasitic infections are also known to contribute to the occurrence of cholangiocarcinoma.

What Are the Risk Factors for Cholangiocarcinoma?

What Are the Symptoms of Cholangiocarcinoma?

The patient might experience general symptoms like:

Other serious symptoms experienced by people with cholangiocarcinoma are:

Can Cholangiocarcinoma Cause Jaundice?

The most common health problem faced by patients with cholangiocarcinoma is jaundice. The cancer obstructs the bile duct resulting in bile accumulation within the liver or gallbladder. In a normal individual, bile leaves the liver as a greenish-yellow material. This color of the bile is due to the pigment called bilirubin. In bile duct cancer, the patient is unable to excrete the bile, which in the long run results in release of bilirubin into the blood circulation resulting in jaundice. It then enters different parts of the body, causing yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eye. Jaundice is not always caused by bile duct cancer, but it can also be due to infections like hepatitis or bile duct blockage caused by gallstones.

How Is Cholangiocarcinoma Diagnosed?

If the doctor suspects cholangiocarcinoma, you will be asked to undergo the following tests.

What Are the Treatment Options for Cholangiocarcinoma?

Treatment is planned according to the stage and extent of cancer. Various imaging procedures are helpful for this purpose. The different treatment options for cholangiocarcinoma are:

In addition to this, routine treatment procedures like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and photodynamic therapy can also be recommended for the patient.

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Last reviewed at:
08 Sep 2021  -  4 min read




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