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Bile duct cancer

cholangiocarcinoma

Bile duct cancer is rare but aggressive, accounting for 10-15% of all primary liver cancers

About bile duct cancer

Bile helps to break down and digest fat. It's made in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and carried around the body by bile ducts. Though rare, bile duct cancer can be aggressive. It accounts for 10-15% of all primary liver cancers and affects both men and women. At HCA Healthcare UK, we offer a variety of treatment options.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of bile duct cancer icon plus

    Usually, the signs of bile duct cancer won't show until its later stages, when the cancer grows large enough to cause a blockage. These symptoms might include:

    • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
    • pale-coloured faeces
    • darker urine
    • itchy skin
    • feeling tired and unwell
    • abdominal pain and swelling
    • fever, chills and shivering

    These symptoms might be a sign of other conditions, so it's important to book yourself in with HCA UK and get a proper diagnosis.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your HCA UK GP or consultant oncologist will discuss your symptoms with you. They may also recommend certain diagnostic tests.

    • Various blood tests to rule out other conditions.
    • An abdominal ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create images of your bile ducts, pancreas and liver from the outside.
    • An endoscopic ultrasound scan, which uses sound waves to create images of your bile ducts, pancreas and liver from the inside.
    • A detailed X-ray, where a special dye will be inserted into your bile duct to make them show up more clearly.
    • A biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of bile duct tissue and testing it for signs of cancer.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Your treatment options will depend on the position, stage and size of the bile duct cancer. Another important factor is if the cancer has spread beyond the bile duct. In some cases, the aim of treatment is to relieve your symptoms rather than provide a cure.

    • surgery to remove the affected area (only in certain cases and if the cancer hasn't spread)
    • removing the cancerous bile ducts (normally for early-stage cancers)
    • Whipple's procedure (surgery to remove the bile ducts and parts of surrounding organs; for larger cancers)
    • surgery to remove the bile duct blockage (if the cancer is too big to remove)
    • chemotherapy (to kill remaining cancer cells)
Cancer care consultants

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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