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Cancer of the bile duct (cholangiocarcinoma) is a rare type of cancer that mainly affects adults aged over 65.
Bile ducts are small tubes that connect the liver and small intestine. They allow fluid called bile to flow from the liver, through the pancreas, to the gut, where it helps with digestion. Cancer can affect any part of these ducts.
Bile duct cancer can sometimes be cured if caught very early on, but it's not usually picked up until a later stage, when a cure isn't possible.
This page covers:
There aren't usually any symptoms of bile duct cancer until it grows large enough to block the bile ducts.
This can cause:
See your GP if you have persistent symptoms that you're worried about – particularly if you have jaundice. These symptoms can have a number of causes, so it's important to get a proper diagnosis.
The exact cause of bile duct cancer is unknown. Most occur without a clear cause, although some things can increase your risk of getting it.
Several tests may be needed to help diagnose bile duct cancer. These will usually be carried out in hospital.
Tests you may have include:
Read more about how bile duct cancer is diagnosed.
It's not usually possible to cure bile duct cancer because it's often only diagnosed after it has grown and spread.
But even in these cases, treatment can help control the symptoms for months or possibly years.
The main treatments for bile duct cancer are:
Read more about how bile duct cancer is treated.
The outlook for bile duct cancer depends on which part of the bile duct is affected and how far the cancer has grown.
Even if it's possible to remove the cancer, there's a chance it could come back later.
Cancer Research UK has more information about survival statistics for bile duct cancer.