Bile duct begins in the liver and ends in the small intestine. Cancer that originates in any part of the bile duct is called bile duct cancer. It can be extra hepatic or intra hepatic based on whether the cancer is located in the duct outside or inside the liver, respectively. The cancer that starts in the junction of the bile ducts is called Klatskin’s Tumor.
As the cancerous growth blocks the bile duct, the first symptoms experienced by the patient include jaundice due to accumulation of bile. Hence the urine also turns dark yellow while the stools turn pale. Severe itching is caused due to the accumulation of bilirubin and bile salts in the skin. Other common symptoms are weight loss, fever, loss of appetite and abdominal pain.
There are many factors that influence the development of bile cancer in an individual including age, genetic factors, lifestyle etc. It is a rare form of cancer that can be triggered by underlying conditions such as chronic liver inflammation, ulcerative colitis and cysts in the bile duct. Other conditions include inflammatory bowel syndrome, biliary stones, hepatitis or parasitic infections. Exposure to asbestos and its raw materials is also a major contributing factor.
Starting with clinical symptoms, diagnosis of bile duct cancer involves biochemical tests like liver function tests, tumor marker tests, biopsy, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI scan and endoscopic examination.
Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon