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A complete overview on Bile Duct Cancer
What’s Bile Duct Cancer’
The medical name for Bile Duct cancer is Cholangiocarcinoma. It is a form of cancer that affects the bile ducts.
What do you understand by the term ‘bile duct’?
Bile ducts are nothing but series of tubes, which transport digestive juice, known as bile to the gall bladder where the bile juice is usually stored and from the gall bladder, the bile juice is then delivered to your small intestine. The food that you consume consists of carbohydrates, proteins and fats and is broken down glucose and other essential nutrients before absorption. Bile plays a major role in this process of digestion.
Most cases of bile duct cancer, otherwise known as cholangiocarcinoma, occur in those parts of the bile ducts that lie outside your liver. In very few instances, the cancer starts from the ducts present within the liver. Tumors that lie outside your liver are relatively smaller in size while those found inside your liver can be fairly larger.
Causes of Bile duct Cancer
These are the common reasons attributed to the formation of bile duct cancer. They are:
Symptoms associated with Bile Duct Cancer
Symptoms associated with bile duct cancer include:
Diagnosis of Bile Duct Cancer
A complete history of your symptoms and a thorough physical examination will help your physician in suspecting bile duct cancer. Jaundice will be apparent on examination and an enlarged liver or gallbladder can be felt beneath your rib cage on the right side.
Blood tests will reveal anemia due to blood loss, and will show abnormalities like elevated Bilirubin – marker of jaundice and increased levels of enzymes related to the liver like SGOT, SGPT and ALP. A marker of bile duct cancer is a protein named CA 19.9 which may be elevated in most cases
Imaging tests include those of Ultrasound abdomen, CT scan as well as MRI scan. Imaging tests reveal the exact location and extent of the cancer. They will also give an idea about involvement of surrounding structures and the status of the liver as well.
Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography(ERCP) and Endoscopic Ultrasound
This is a special endoscopic test done by a gastroenterologist, where a long flexible lighted tube is passed down your throat to reach the gut where your bile ducts open up. To add a better visibility to the zone, he also injects some dye into the ducts. The bile ducts thus show up more clearly on an X-Ray. Any blockages are precisely revealed. A mini ultrasound probe is also passed, to visualize the area clearly. This is known as an Endoscopic Ultrasound scan. During these tests, biopsies or brushings can be taken from the bile duct walls or from surrounding lymph nodes to help make a diagnosis.
Chemotherapy and Radiation beams are also given to patients, following the above stated treatments.
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