Bile duct cancer

What is bile duct cancer?
Bile duct cancer is cancer that develops in the bile ducts, which are tubes that carry bile (the fluid produced by the liver that digests fat) between the liver, gallbladder and intestines.

What causes bile duct cancer?
No exact cause of bile duct cancer is known, but several factors have been identified that may increase the chances of developing the disease:
• Chronic inflammation of the bile duct like the chronic presence of stones in the common bile duct and the presence of hepatic flukes.
• Certain liver diseases like hepatitis C
• Having colitis (chronic inflammation of the colon that produces ulcers in its lining)

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get bile duct cancer.

What are the symptoms of bile duct cancer?
Possible signs of bile duct cancer may include the following, although these symptoms may be caused by other conditions:
• Weight loss
• Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
• Fever
• Pain in the abdomen area
• Incidental finding on imaging studies

How is bile duct cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage bile duct cancer including: 
• Blood tests that are also called tumor marker test which may show high levels at diagnosis and help in following the patient’s response to treatment during and after therapy
• Liver function tests
• ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), a procedure used to examine and diagnose diseases of the liver, bile ducts, and pancreas. A biopsy can be taken at the same time
• Laparoscopic biopsy to obtain tissue samples for further study
• Endoscopic ultrasounds for more precise assessment of the tumor
• CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to assess whether the disease has spread to other areas of the body
• MRCP(magnetic resonance cholangiography), a non invasive diagnostic technique that technique visualises the biliary tract and pancreatic ducts
• Placement of metallic or plastic stent for permanent or temporary relief of jaundice, if needed
 
How is bile duct cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body. The treatment team includes oncologists, oncology surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists and gastroenterologists in addition to well- trained oncology nurses. 
Even though surgery is an option, most patients are not candidates for surgery. Depending on the stage of the cancer, other treatment options include chemotherapy and /or radiation therapy.
 
Physicians
At KHCC, bile duct cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of specialists highly experienced in treating bile duct cancer and other gastrointestinal tumors.

Supportive Care
The gastrointestinal multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that bile duct cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
• For patients who have to have temporary or permanent colostomies, a stoma team is on hand to counsel them and show them how to use colostomy pouches.