What is bile duct cancer?

Bile duct cancer develops in the tubes that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small bowel. 

Symptoms of bile duct cancer

The symptoms of bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) include yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and weight loss.

Getting diagnosed

Some people are diagnosed with bile duct cancer after they become unwell and go to A&E. Others start by seeing their GP. Your GP might refer you for tests and to see a specialist. 

Survival for bile duct cancer

Survival depends on several factors including the stage of your cancer. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. 

Treatment for bile duct cancer

The type of treatment you have depends on the stage of your cancer and your general health. The main treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and treatment to help reduce your symptoms. 

Types of bile duct cancer

There are different types of bile duct cancer. The type you have depends on the type of cell the cancer started in, and which part of the bile duct is affected.

Stages and grades of bile duct cancer

The stage and grade of bile duct cancer helps your doctor decide the treatment you need. For bile duct cancer, doctors might use the number staging system, the TNM system or the Bismuth-Corlette staging system. 

Research and clinical trials

Find out about bile duct cancer research and clinical trials, and how you can take part.

Living with bile duct cancer

Learn about the feelings and practical difficulties you might have with bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). Here you can find advice and tips to help you best cope. 

Advanced bile duct cancer

Advanced bile duct cancer means that the cancer has spread beyond the bile ducts or has come back some time after you were first treated. 

Risks and causes of bile duct cancer

Factors that increase the risk of bile duct cancer include getting older and long term (chronic) inflammation of the bile ducts.

Last reviewed: 
16 Sep 2021
Next review due: 
16 Sep 2024
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