Surgery for bile duct cancer

The type of surgery you have depends on where the cancer is in your bile ducts and whether it has spread (the stage). The tests you have to diagnose the cancer help your doctor decide which operation you need.

You might have surgery to remove bile duct cancer if your cancer is only in the bile ducts and hasn't spread elsewhere in the body. But unfortunately, most bile duct cancers are usually advanced by the time they are diagnosed. This means that you might not be able to have surgery to remove the cancer.

Your doctor might suggest other treatments such as chemotherapy. Or you might have a tube (stent) put in to treat a blocked bile duct. 

Surgery to remove bile duct cancer

Surgery for bile duct cancer gives the best chance of curing. Find out more about surgery to remove bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). 

Before your bile duct cancer operation

You have tests before your operation to check that you are well enough for a general anaesthetic and that you'll make a good recovery. 

Going into hospital

You usually go into hospital on the same day or the day before your bile duct cancer operation. You may stay in hospital for about 10 to 14 days.

After your bile duct cancer operation

You may wake up in the intensive care unit or a high dependency recovery unit after your operation. Your treatment team monitor you and help you recover whilst you are in the hospital. 

Problems after bile duct cancer surgery

There is a risk of problems (complications) after any operation. Possible problems after surgery for bile duct cancer include leakage of bile and infection. 

Last reviewed: 
21 Oct 2021
Next review due: 
21 Oct 2024
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