Cholangiocarcinoma is a malignant growth, meaning cancerous, in one of your bile ducts. A bile duct is a thin bile transporting tube that spans from your liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. And bile is critical for the digestion and absorption of fats.
Cholangiocarcinoma cancer is fairly rare, its tumor typically grows slowly and it doesn’t metastasize rapidly. But because this cancer is often advanced by the time it’s found a high percentage of cases have fatal outcomes.
Cholangiocarcinoma cancer causes bile duct blockage so the first symptom many experience is jaundice. Another relatively common symptom caused by bile duct cancer is abdominal pain, frequently described as a gnawing pain felt in the upper right abdomen. Some of its other symptoms include:
- dark urine
- appetite loss
- anorexia ~ weight loss
- clay, pale looking stools
Risk factors and other health conditions that may have some association with cholangiocarcinoma include:
- viral hepatitis
- typhoid carrier
- bile duct cysts
- anabolic steroid use
- chronic cholecystitis
- polycystic kidney disease
- chronic biliary inflammation
- thorotrast ~ no longer in use
- alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency
- primary sclerosing cholangitis
- parasitic infestation ~ liver flukes
- ulcer causing H. pylori bacterial infection
- previous choledochal cyst, biliary atresia surgery
- inflammatory bowel disease ~ chronic ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease
- chemical exposure ~ nitrosamines, dioxin, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls
These risks have varying degrees of association, as in strong, a possibility or perhaps coincidental.
Generally, cholangiocarcinoma is not really preventable. However, decreasing your exposure to risky chemicals and vaccinating against hepatitis, i.e hepatitis B virus, certainly wouldn’t hurt to reduce your chances of jaundice and abdominal pain symptoms caused by this cancer.
Your best opportunity for surviving a bout with cholangiocarcinoma is if the cancer can be surgically removed. Unfortunately, that treatment option is not always available. If your tumor be inextricable, then an alternative form of treatment is for your health care surgeon to create a bypass around the obstructed bile duct to relieve jaundice, abdominal pain and other cholangiocarcinoma symptoms.