Bile duct cancer can develop in bile ducts that are located inside or outside your liver — or in both. It is a rare cancer, but Rush cancer specialists have expertise treating it.
Risk Factors for Bile Duct Cancer
You are at higher risk for bile duct cancer if you have any of the following conditions:
- Ulcerative colitis
- Cysts in the bile duct
- Scarring, swelling or damage to the bile duct
When to Get Help for Bile Duct Cancer
See your primary care doctor if you have any of these symptoms and they do not go away on their own:
- Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
- Itchy skin
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
Most of the time, having these symptoms does not mean you have bile duct cancer. Other conditions have similar symptoms. So it's important to be evaluated to determine whether the cause is bile duct cancer or another issue.
If you are diagnosed with bile duct cancer, your doctor will likely refer you liver and GI cancer specialists who can determine the next best steps to confirm the diagnosis and treatment.
Bile Duct Cancer Treatment at Rush
Your care at Rush may involve one or more of the following:
Endoscopic procedures: Through our innovative interventional endoscopy program, doctors can remove early-stage cancers, and precancerous polyps that can develop into cancer. They use a thin tube inserted through your mouth. This approach can lead to less pain and a faster recovery, compared to surgical options.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that uses X-rays and an endoscope (a lighted, flexible tube containing a camera) to diagnose or treat problems in the bile ducts, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
- Endoscopic ultrasound is an imaging procedure that doctors use to find and evaluate cancers and other conditions of the pancreas, liver, gallbladder and digestive tract.
Chemotherapy: Cancer-fighting drugs that kill cancer cells.
Radiation therapy: Treatment to target cancer cells.
Immunotherapy: Rush offers the most advanced immunotherapies, which help your body fight cancer.
Targeted therapy: A treatment option that identifies and attacks cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and other options to help you cope with pain, loss of energy and other challenges related to gallbladder cancer.
Rush Excellence in Bile Duct Cancer Care
- Nationally ranked experts focused on you: Rush University Medical Center is ranked among the best in the nation for cancer and gastroenterology and GI surgery by U.S. News & World Report. Our experts welcome your questions and will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan for you.
- Minimally invasive options: Whenever possible, our cancer surgeons perform procedures using small incisions, so you have less pain, shorter recovery times and reduced scarring.
- High-risk clinic for GI cancers: The high-risk gastrointestinal (GI) cancer clinic at Rush University Medical Center will work closely with you if you have underlying pre-cancerous conditions or genetic factors that put you at a higher risk for developing GI cancers. Our team will provide you with personalized GI cancer risk assessment, screening and preventive care — as well as a care and surveillance plan based on your distinct needs and risk factors.