Bile Duct Cancer (cholengiocarcinoma)

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Bile Duct Cancer (cholengiocarcinoma) Cancer

Cholangiocarcinoma is cancer that forms in the slender tubes (bile ducts) that carry the digestive fluid bile. Bile ducts connect your liver to your gallbladder and to your small intestine. This condition, also known as bile duct cancer, is an uncommon form of cancer that occurs mostly in people older than age 50, though it can occur at any age.
Doctors divide cholangiocarcinoma into different types based on where the cancer occurs in the bile ducts:

  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma occurs in the parts of the bile ducts within the liver and is sometimes classified as a type of liver cancer.
  • Hilar cholangiocarcinomaoccurs in the bile ducts just outside of the liver. This type is also called perihilar cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Distal cholangiocarcinomaoccurs in the portion of the bile duct nearest the small intestine.

What Are the Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer (cholengiocarcinoma) ?

  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Intensely itchy skin
  • White-colored stools
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unintended weight loss

Causes

Cholangiocarcinoma occurs when cells in the bile ducts develop changes (mutations) in their DNA — the material that provides instructions for every chemical process in your body. DNA mutations cause changes in the instructions. One result is that cells may begin to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor — a mass of cancerous cells. It’s not clear what causes the genetic mutations that lead to cancer.

Treatment

  • Surgery
  • Liver transplant.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Biliary drainage

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects cholangiocarcinoma, he or she may have you undergo one or more of the following tests:

  • Liver function tests.Blood tests to measure your liver function can give your doctor clues about what’s causing your signs and symptoms.
  • Tumor marker test.Checking the level of cancer antigen (CA) 19-9 in your blood may give your doctor additional clues about your diagnosis. CA 19-9 is a protein that’s overproduced by bile duct cancer cells.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests can help your doctor see any abnormalities in your internal organs that may indicate cholangiocarcinoma. Techniques used to diagnose bile duct cancer include computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) combined with magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). MRCP is increasingly being used as a noninvasive alternative to ERCP. It offers 3-D images without the need for a dye to enhance the images.

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