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  Bile duct Cancer  
 
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | It can lead to... | Recommendations

 

Bile duct cancers, also called cholangiocarcinomas, may arise in many locations in and around the liver. They are rare, affecting only 16,600 people in the United States per year. The cause is unknown although people with chronic inflammatory processes such as ulcerative colitis or parasitic infections of the bile ducts, or with congenital abnormalities of the bile ducts are at higher risk for developing this cancer. No one cause has been clearly demonstrated.

Bile duct cancer tends to spread into the adjacent liver, along the bile duct surface and through the lymph system to lymph nodes in the region of the liver. Tumors in the bile duct leading from the gall bladder to the common bile duct (cystic duct) can spread to involve the gall bladder. Ultimately, other lymph nodes as well as other organs within the abdomen may become involved.

There are no signs or symptoms unique to bile duct cancer. Even if the findings associated with bile duct cancer are present, other explanations, such as gallstones, are far more likely. Symptoms generally develop slowly and are often subtle. Jaundice and itching are the most common signs. Jaundice is caused by the accumulation in the skin of a component of bile (bilirubin) that normally empties into the intestines after traveling through the bile ducts.

Bloating, weight loss, decreased appetite, fever, nausea or an enlarging abdominal mass are all signs that may be attributable to bile duct cancer. Pain usually signifies advanced disease.
 

 
 

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Bile duct Cancer:
 
 
Symptoms - Bowel Movements  Pale stools
 
 

Bile duct Cancer can lead to:
 
 
Risks  Cancer / Risk - General Measures
 
 

Recommendations for Bile duct Cancer:
 
 
Surgery/Invasive  Surgery
 The only definitive treatment is the complete surgical removal of the tumor, which is not often possible. If the cancer cannot be entirely removed, the principal goals of therapy become the relief of symptoms caused by the accumulation of bile, and relief from pain.
 
 


KEY
Weak or unproven link
Proven definite or direct link
Highly recommended







GLOSSARY

Bile:  A bitter, yellow-green secretion of the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is released when fat enters the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) in order to aid digestion.

Cancer:  Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Chronic:  Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Gallstone:  (Biliary Calculus): Stone-like objects in either the gallbladder or bile ducts, composed mainly of cholesterol and occasionally mixed with calcium. Most gallstones do not cause problems until they become larger or they begin obstructing bile ducts, at which point gallbladder "attacks" begin to occur. Symptoms usually occur after a fatty meal and at night. The following are the most common ones: steady, severe pain in the middle-upper abdomen or below the ribs on the right; pain in the back between the shoulder blades; pain under the right shoulder; nausea; vomiting; fever; chills; jaundice; abdominal bloating; intolerance of fatty foods; belching or gas; indigestion.

Jaundice:  Yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and excreta as a result of an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream.

Lymph:  A clear fluid that flows through lymph vessels and is collected from the tissues throughout the body. Its function is to nourish tissue cells and return waste matter to the bloodstream. The lymph system eventually connects with and adds to venous circulation.

Lymph Nodes:  Small, bean-shaped nodes at various points throughout the body that function to filter the lymph fluid and attempt to destroy the microorganisms and abnormal cells which collect there. The most common locations are the neck (both sides and front), armpit and groin, but also under the jaw and behind the ears. Swollen or painful lymph nodes generally result from localized or systemic infection, abscess formation, or malignancy. Other causes of enlarged lymph nodes are extremely rare. Physical examination for lymph nodes includes pressing on them to check for size, texture, warmth, tenderness and mobility. Most lymph nodes can not be felt until they become swollen, and then will only be tender when pressed or massaged. A lymph node that is painful even without touching indicates greater swelling. Lymph nodes can usually be distinguished from other growths because they generally feel small, smooth, round or oval-shaped and somewhat mobile when attempts are made to push them sideways. Because less fat covers the lymph nodes in children, they are easier to feel, even when they are not busy filtering germs or making antibodies. Children’s nodes enlarge faster, get bigger in response to an infection and stay swollen longer than an adult's.

Nausea:  Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.

Ulcerative Colitis:  (Colitis ulcerosa): Ulceration of the colon and rectum, usually long-term and characterized by rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, frequent urgent diarrhea/bowel movements each day, abdominal pain.