Can Bile Duct Cancer Be Prevented?

There's no known way to prevent most bile duct cancers in the US. Many of the known risk factors for bile duct cancer, such as age, ethnicity, and bile duct abnormalities, are beyond our control. But there are things you can do that might help lower your risk.

Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is one important way a person may reduce their risk of bile duct cancer, as well as many other types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that people try to stay at a healthy weight, keep physically active, and follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and that limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods. To learn more, see the American Cancer Society Guidelines for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Other ways that people might be able to reduce their risk of bile duct cancer include:

  • Get vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to prevent infection with this virus and the cirrhosis it can cause.
  • Take precautions to avoid blood-borne or sexually transmitted infections like HBV and other viruses (like hepatitis C virus) to help prevent cirrhosis.
  • Treat hepatitis infections (such as B and C) to help prevent cirrhosis.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Quit (or don’t start) smoking.
  • Protect yourself against exposure to certain chemicals (see Risk Factors for Bile Duct Cancer).

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Patel T, Borad MJ. Carcinoma of the biliary tree. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015:715-735.

Petrick JL, Campbell PT, Koshiol J, et al. Tobacco, alcohol use and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: The Liver Cancer Pooling Project. Br J Cancer. 2018;118(7):1005-1012.

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;70(4). doi:10.3322/caac.21591. Accessed at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21591 on June 9, 2020.

Last Medical Review: July 3, 2018 Last Revised: June 9, 2020

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