Cholangiocarcinoma

Alternative Names

Bile duct cancer

Definition of Cholangiocarcinoma

Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancerous (malignant) growth in one of the ducts that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Cancerous of the bile ducts are usually slow-growing and do not spread (metastasize) quickly. However, many of these tumors are already advanced by the time they are found.

Signs and tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. Tests will be done to check for a tumor or blockage in the bile duct. These may include:

Treatment

The goal is to treat the and the blockage it causes. When possible, surgery to remove the tumor is the treatment of choice and may result in a cure. If the tumor is large, the entire liver may need to be removed and a liver transplant will be needed. However, often the cancer has already spread by the time it is diagnosed.

Expectations (prognosis)

Completely removing the tumor allows 30 – 40% of patients to survive for at least 5 years, with the possibility of a complete cure.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/2/2010

Digestive system
Bile pathway

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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