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Cholangiocarcinoma, commonly referred to as bile duct cancer is a malignancy marked by the unusual growth of unhealthy cells within the bile duct, the tube that serves as a passage for the bile juice from the liver to the gallbladder, pancreas and duodenum. Bile duct cancer can affect people of any age group, however, elderlies above the age of 60 have been found to be more vulnerable, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the cases. The incidence rate of the malignancy is quite high in India, with a 5-year survival rate of 10 per cent if detected late and 17 per cent if diagnosed in the initial stage. Treatment for bile duct cancer is offered at all the best cancer hospitals in India.

Getting familiar with different types of bile duct cancer:

Bile duct cancer can be differentiated into various types, depending upon a variety of different factors, including the area of the origin of cancer. Here are two common types, as listed by the experts specializing in oncology treatment in India.

  • Extrahepatic bile duct cancer - It refers to the bile duct cancer that develops outside the liver and has been found to be much easier to treat. Cancer may develop in any one or both of the following areas:
  • Helium region - The cancer is referred to as perihilar cancer
  • Distal region - The cancer is referred to as distal cancer
  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancer - It referes to the bile duct cancer that develops within the liver and accounts for 5 to 10 per cent of the cases.

Understanding the risk factors:

As per the best doctors in India, there is no exact cause of gall bladder cancer that can be pinpointed, however, there are certain risk factors that can put you at a higher risk of developing the malignancy:

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis - A chronic condition marked by scarring and narrowing of the bile ducts owing to long term inflammation. The condition is usually diagnosed in people aged 40 or above, and men tend to be at a higher risk of developing the same.
  • Bile duct stones - Bile duct stones are the gallstones that get trapped within the bile duct and lead to obstruction. The condition is commonly referred to as choledocholithiasis and can be extremely painful. In extreme cases, the stone may damage the pancreas, liver, and digestive system.
  • Choledochal cysts - It is a rare, congenital condition marked by the development of tiny sacs filled with bile juice. This can lead to an obstruction that can cause the bile to flow back into the liver.
  • Liver fluke infection - It is a condition caused by parasitic worms, which are quite common in Asian countries and develops as a result of eating contaminated raw fish. Once ingested, these travel from the intestine towards the bile duct and then into the liver, where they continue to multiply.
  • Reflux - The condition is marked by the backward flow of the digestive juices from the pancreas into the bile duct. It is a potentially serious problem that has also been associated with stomach cancer.
  • Cirrhosis - It is a chronic liver ailment marked by the development of scar tissue in the liver, that gradually replaces all the healthy tissues. This prevents your liver from functioning properly, eventually causing it to become dysfunctional. This could be a result of an underlying medical condition or an injury sustained in an accident.

Other factors that can increase the risks of developing bile duct cancer are:

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Excessive alcohol intake

If you can relate with any of the risk factors, it is important to speak with your doctor and get yourself evaluated.