Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of liver cancer that affects the bile ducts inside and outside of the liver. These tumors account for one-third of all liver and biliary passage tumors.
Conditions or diseases associated with bile duct tumors include:
Symptoms of a bile duct tumor are similar to those of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or advanced primary liver cancer, and may include:
In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may order several tests to evaluate:
These tests may include:
A CT scan may show a dilated bile duct, indicating the presence of a tumor.
Blood tests will measure bilirubin levels to help determine whether a tumor is blocking the bile duct.
Bilirubin is the product responsible for the yellow color of bile and urine.
If tests indicate increased bilirubin and duct obstruction, specialists may place a stent, or tube, in the duct to relieve the blockage. As a result of this procedure, bilirubin levels should return to normal.
People who have abdominal pain might have an exam of the gastrointestinal tract, called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
This test helps the doctor detect a narrowing of the duct, which could indicate the presence of a tumor.
If ERCP confirms the existence of a tumor, the doctor may use a brush to take a tissue sample during the procedure. The sample will undergo a biopsy to test for cancer.
Other tests may include:
The UPMC Liver Cancer Center offers several treatment options for people with cholangiocarcinoma.
Depending on the size and location of your tumor, and the general health of your liver, you may be a candidate for surgical removal of the tumor(s).
UPMC’s liver surgeons are among the most experienced in the United States at minimally invasive liver surgery, which is performed through three or four small incisions in the abdomen. We perform this technique whenever possible to reduce pain, scarring, and recovery time.
If your tumor is too large to be removed by surgery, the UPMC Liver Cancer Center offers innovative therapies to:
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-745-4837.