If the cancer is small and has not spread beyond the bile duct, your doctor may remove the whole bile duct and make a new duct by connecting the duct openings in the liver to the intestine. Lymph nodes also will be removed and examined under the microscope to see if they contain cancer. If the cancer has spread and cannot be removed, your doctor may perform surgery to relieve symptoms.
If the cancer is blocking the small intestine and bile builds up in the gallbladder, surgery may be required. During this operation, called a biliary bypass, your doctor will cut the gallbladder or bile duct and sew it to the small intestine.
After complete removal of the tumor, 30 percent to 40 percent of patients survive for at least five years, with the possibility of being completely cured. If the tumor cannot be completely removed, it generally is not possible to cure the patient. In these cases, if you are not a candidate for surgery and have an obstruction, percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) can be used to place plastic or metal stents, which help to relieve obstructions.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are two main types of radiation therapy:
- External-Beam Radiation Therapy: Radiation comes from a machine outside the body.
- Internal Radiation Therapy: Materials that produce radiation, called radioisotopes, are put into the area where the cancer cells are found through thin plastic tubes.
There are a couple types of therapy that are currently being studied in clinical trials for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma, including:
- Chemotherapy: Uses drugs to kill cancer cells
- Biological Therapy: Uses the body's immune system to fight cancer
- Photodynamic Therapy: Uses a specific type of light and photosensitizing agent to kill cancer cells
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
FAQ: Cancer Pathology Tissue Slides
Find frequently asked questions regarding cancer pathology tissue slides, such as how to obtain the slides and what to do with them once you do.
FAQ: Cancer Radiology Scans and Reports
Learn the difference between a radiology report and radiology films or scans as well as why your doctor may be requesting these scans and more.
Self-Care for Caregivers
Caregiver fatigue can be brought on by the physical and emotional demands of caring for a loved one with a serious illness. Learn tips to combat caregiver fatigue here.
Communicating with Your Doctor
The relationship with a doctor is a very personal one, built on communication and trust. In choosing a doctor, the "chemistry" between the two of you must work.
Coping with Chemotherapy
Each person experiences side effects from chemotherapy differently, and different chemotherapy drugs cause different side effects. Learn more here.
Delegation to Help with Fatigue
Fatigue caused by cancer treatment can make it difficult to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Learn how task delegation can help with this fatigue.
Diet for Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Find practical tips and suggested foods to help with nausea here.
Managing Your Treatment
Living with or caring for someone with cancer can be a full-time job. Here are some tips to reduce stress and help navigate the disease more effectively.
Nutrition and Coping with Cancer Symptoms
Side effects of cancer treatment may affect your eating pattern, requiring new ways to get the calories, protein and nutrients that you need. Learn more.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Your time with the doctor is limited, thus it's helpful to prepare for the visit in advance by prioritizing the questions that are important to you. Learn more.
Resources for End of Life
The UCSF Cancer Resource Center has a list of bereavement support groups, counselors, hospice and others dealing with end-of-life issues. Learn more.
Tips for Conserving Your Energy
Cancer and cancer therapy can be accompanied by feelings of extreme fatigue. To help you deal with this fatigue, follow these easy tips help conserve energy.
Using a Medical Calendar and Symptom Log
Take time at the end of each day or each week to reflect back on the symptoms you've had. You can use a calendar to track your symptoms. Learn more here.
Seeking care at UCSF Health