Bile Duct (Cholangiocarcinoma) Cancer

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Treating Bile Duct Cancer TOPICS

How is bile duct cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

The main types of treatment for bile duct cancer include:

If the tumor is resectable, surgery is usually the main type of treatment for bile duct cancer, as it offers the only reasonable chance to cure the cancer. Radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be added after surgery in some cases, or they may be used instead of surgery if the cancer cannot be entirely removed. In rare cases a liver transplant may also be an option.

Making treatment decisions

After bile duct cancer is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. It is important for you to take time and think about your choices. In choosing a treatment plan, there are some factors to consider:

  • The location and extent of the cancer
  • Whether the cancer is resectable (removable by surgery)
  • The likely side effects of treatment
  • Your overall health
  • The chances of curing the disease, extending life, or relieving symptoms

If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion, particularly for an uncommon cancer like bile duct cancer. A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel more confident about your chosen treatment plan.

Last Medical Review: 10/30/2013
Last Revised: 10/30/2013