Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a rare cancerous (malignant) growth in one of the ducts that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine.
Bile duct cancer
The exact cause of CCA isn't known. However, many of these tumors are already quite advanced by the time they are found.
CCA may start anywhere along the bile ducts. These tumors block off the bile ducts.
Both men and women are affected. Most people are older than 65.
People with the following health problems may have a higher chance of developing CCA:
Symptoms of CCA may include any of the following:
The goal is to treat the cancer and the blockage it causes. When possible, surgery to remove the tumor is the treatment of choice and may result in a cure. Often the cancer has already spread locally or to another area of the body by the time it is diagnosed. As a result, surgery to cure the cancer is not possible.
Chemotherapy or radiation may be given after surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer returning.
In select cases, a liver transplant can be tried.
Endoscopic therapy with stent placement can temporarily relieve blockages in the biliary ducts. This may also relieve jaundice when the tumor cannot be removed.
Completely removing the tumor allows some people to survive with the possibility of complete cure.
The survival time varies greatly from several months to several years. Outlook depends on:
If the tumor cannot be completely removed, a cure is generally not possible. With treatment, about one half of affected people live a year, and about one half live longer, but rarely beyond 5 years. You and your family may want to start thinking about end-of-life planning, such as:
Complications of CCA include:
Call your provider if you have jaundice or other symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma.
Published Date: April 29, 2022
Published By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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National Cancer Institute website. Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) treatment (PDQ) -- health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/liver/hp/bile-duct-treatment-pdq. Updated June 2, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022.
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Rizvi SH, Gores GJ. Tumors of the bile ducts, gallbladder, and ampulla. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 69.