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Survival

Find out about bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) survival. 

Survival depends on many factors, so no one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live. It depends on your individual condition, type of cancer, treatment and level of fitness.

Statistics for this cancer are harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. Remember, they can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Survival by stage

There are no UK wide statistics available for bile duct cancer survival by stage. 

The statistics below come from America. They come from the National Cancer Insitiute's SEER programme. They are for people diagnosed with bile duct cancer between 2000 and 2006. Please be aware that due to differences in American health care systems, data collection and the population, these figures might not be a true picture of survival in the UK.

The American statistics are split into 3 groups:

  • Localised - includes stage 1 cancers
  • Regional - usually includes stage 2 and stage 3 cancers
  • Distant - stage 4 cancers that have spread to other parts of the body, away from the bile duct

The statistics are also split into 2 types of bile duct cancer:

  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancer that starts in the liver
  • Extrahepatic bile duct cancer that starts outside the liver (perihilar and distal cancers)

Localised
15 out of 100 people (15%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Regional 
Around 5 out of 100 people (around 5%) surive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Distant
2 out of 100 people (2%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Localised
30 out of 100 people (30%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Regional
Around 25 out of 100 people (around 25%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

Distant
2 out of 100 people (2%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Survival for all stages of bile duct cancer

There are no UK wide statistics available for bile duct cancer survival. The following statistics are provided by Public Health England’s National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN). They are for people diagnosed with biliary tract cancer.

1 year survival

For those diagnosed in England  in 2012

  • almost 30 out of 100 men (almost 30%) survived their cancer for 1 year or more after being diagnosed
  • 25 out of 100 women (25%) survived their cancer for 1 year or more after being diagnosed

5 year survival

For those diagnosed in England in 2008

  • more than 5 out of 100 men (more than 5%) survived their cancer for 5 years or more after they were diagnosed
  • around 5 out of 100 women (around 5%) survived their cancer for 5 years or more after they were diagnosed

What affects survival

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. It also depends on where the cancer is growing, and whether you can have surgery to completely remove it.

The type and grade of bile duct cancer affects your likely survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

Your outlook might be affected if you have inflammaton of the biliary tree. This is called primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Your outlook might also be worse if you have high levels of CEA or CA 19-9 in your blood. These are chemical substances that can show up in the bloodstream with some types of cancer. 

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years. They relate to the number of people who are still alive 1 year or 5 years after their diagnosis of cancer.

Some people live much longer than 5 years.

Last reviewed: 
10 Jan 2015
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committe on Cancer
    Springer, 2017

  • National Cancer Institute 

  • American Cancer Society 

  • Age-standardised incidence rates, one- and five-year survival, all patients diagnosed with upper gastrointestinal cancers, England
    Public Health England’s National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), 2015

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