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Screening

There isn't a screening programme for bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). Find out why. 

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

No screening available

There is no screening programme for bile duct cancer in the UK at the moment because:

  • we wouldn't find many cancers because it's so rare
  • there is no suitable test to use for bile duct cancer screening
  • current tests have risks that outweigh the benefits for most people
  • the cost of screening would be high

With uncommon disease it is more cost effective to screen people who are thought to be at a higher risk. But first we must know who is at higher risk. 

Talk to your GP if you think you are at higher than average risk of bile duct cancer. If your doctor agrees that you are at a higher risk, they may be able to give you regular check ups. 

Last reviewed: 
22 Jan 2018
  • Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of cholangiocarcinoma: an update
    SA Khan and others 
    Gut, 2012. Volume 61, Pages 1657-1669

  • Biliary cancer: ESMO clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up
    JW Valle and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2016. Volume 27, Pages 28-37 

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