We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
Health

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Cholangiocarcinoma?

By Dulce Corazon
Updated: May 17, 2024

A cholangiocarcinoma is a malignant tumor or cancer that arise from the cells lining the bile ducts in the biliary system. The biliary system contains the bile ducts and the gallbladder, a pouch-like organ that functions as a storage place for bile. Bile, a greenish-yellow liquid produced by the liver, is important in the digestion of fats, in vitamin absorption, and in carrying waste products down to the intestines. A growing cholangiocarcinoma often causes blockage or obstruction in the flow of bile through these ducts.

The bile ducts are tube-like structures where bile passes from the liver to the gallbladder and down into the intestines. Inside the liver, they are called intrahepatic ducts; when located just outside the liver, these ducts are called perihilar ducts. There is also the common bile duct, a larger duct formed by the union of the ducts coming from the gallbladder and the liver, which drains into the intestines. A majority of cholangiocarcinoma cases arise in the perihilar ducts. A small number also grow in the common bile duct and in the intrahepatic ducts.

Patients with cholangiocarcinoma frequently complain of non-specific symptoms such as fever, chills, loss of appetite, and pain, usually occurring at the right section of the abdomen. Other symptoms commonly seen in cholangiocarcinoma patients include passing of clay-colored stools, itching, and jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes. Clay-colored stools are often seen in these patients because bile is generally the substance that gives the brown color to stools. When the flow of bile is blocked, it stays in the circulation, often resulting in the yellowing of the skin. As bile also deposits under the skin, itching usually manifests.

A gastroenterologist, a doctor who diagnoses and treats patients with gastrointestinal diseases, often uses various diagnostic tools in evaluating cholangiocarcinoma cases. He may request an abdominal ultrasound or a computed tomography (CT) scan to visualize the presence of a tumor in the biliary system. An endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERCP) is an invasive method that involves the insertion of a scope through the mouth, down to the biliary system to locate the tumor and take tissue samples for laboratory analysis when needed.

Cholangiocarcinoma treatment may require surgery in order to remove the tumor and stop the blockage in bile flow. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are also administered to many patients after surgery to prevent the cancer from returning. Most cholangiocarcinoma cases, however, are usually diagnosed late, thus giving patients a poorer outlook in terms of cure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Share
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.