Cholangiocarcinoma, or Bile Duct Cancer, Diagnosed and Treated by Doctors at Mercy

Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Dr. Paul ThuluvathDr. Anurag Maheshwari and Dr. Hwan Yoo are recognized experts for diagnosing and treating biliary diseases, including the primary types of biliary cancer: hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Patients turn to the doctors at The Center for Liver and Hepatobiliary Diseases at Mercy in Baltimore for their innovative treatment options.

About the Condition

Cholangiocarcinoma, also referred to as bile duct cancer, is a rare form of cancer that affects the tissue in the bile ducts, which carry bile from the liver to the small intestine. Bile duct cancer is slow growing and does not spread quickly. Once bile duct cancer symptoms appear and a diagnosis is made, the tumor may be too advanced for surgery. 

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Cholangiocarcinoma symptoms occur when the tumor blocks the bile duct, prohibiting the bile to freely flow. Bile duct cancer symptoms include:

  • Jaundice
  • Discolored stools
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss

Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis, ulcerative colitis, bile duct cysts, or chronic biliary inflammation are at a higher risk to develop cholangiocarcinoma.

A physical examination as well as tests can be performed to detect bile duct tumors. Common tests for cholangiocarcinoma include:

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Treatment Options

By the time cholangiocarcinoma is diagnosed, the cancer often has spread. When possible, the surgical removal of the tumor in the bile duct is the preferred treatment option for cholangiocarcinoma. A liver transplant may be a treatment option if the bile duct tumor is too large to remove. When surgery is not a cholangiocarcinoma treatment option, other treatments are available, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and biliary drainage with palliative endoscopically placed biliary stents to improve quality of life.