Encyclopedia Home / C / Cholangiocarcinoma


  • Alternative Names

    Bile duct cancer


    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. If the tumor is large, the entire liver may need to be removed and a liver transplant will be needed. However, often the cancer has already spread by the time it is diagnosed.

    Chemotherapy or radiation may be given after surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer returning. However, the benefit of this treatment is not certain.

    Endoscopic therapy with stent placement can temporarily relieve blockages in the biliary ducts and relieve jaundice in patients when the tumor cannot be removed. Laser therapy combined with light-activated chemotherapy medications is another treatment option for those with blockages of the bile duct.

    Support Groups

    You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group with members who share common experiences and problems (see cancer - support group).

    Hospice is often a good resource for patients with cholangiocarcinoma that cannot be cured.

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Completely removing the tumor allows 30 - 40% of patients to survive for at least 5 years, with the possibility of a complete cure.

    If the tumor cannot be completely removed, a cure is generally not possible. With treatment, about half of these patients live a year, and about half live longer.

    • Infection
    • Liver failure
    • Spread (metastasis) of tumor to other organs

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have jaundice or other symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma.