Rohilkhand Cancer Institute

What Exactly Is Bile Duct Cancer

Regarding the Bile Ducts

The bile ducts are a network of thin tubes connecting the liver to the small intestine. Their primary function is to transport bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it aids in the digestion of fats in food.

The names of various parts of the bile duct system vary. It begins in the liver as a network of tiny tubes (called ductules). The ductules connect to form small tubes known as ducts. These connect to form larger ducts, which then connect to form the left and right hepatic ducts. These ducts within the liver are collectively known as intrahepatic bile ducts.

The left and right hepatic ducts leave the liver and connect to form the common hepatic duct in the hilum. Lower down, the cystic duct connects the gallbladder (a small organ that stores bile) to the common hepatic duct. The combined duct is referred to as the common bile duct.

The common bile duct travels through the pancreas before joining the pancreatic duct and emptying into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) at the ampulla of Vater.

Bile duct cancer types are classified by location

Cancer of the bile duct (cholangiocarcinoma) can begin in any part of the bile duct system. Cancers are classified into three types based on where they begin (see the image below):

Cancers of the intrahepatic bile duct
Perihilar (also called hilar) (also called hilar) Cancers of the bile duct
Cancers of the distal bile duct

Cancers of the intrahepatic bile duct

These cancers begin in the smaller bile duct branches that run through the liver. They are frequently treated in the same way as cancers that begin in the liver cells (hepatocellular carcinomas).

Cancers of the perihilar (also known as hilar) bile duct

These cancers begin at the hilum, where the left and right hepatic ducts join and leave the liver. Klatskin tumours are another name for these. These cancers are classified as extrahepatic bile duct cancers along with distal bile duct cancers.

Cancers of the distal bile duct

These cancers are discovered further down the bile duct, near the small intestine. These are extrahepatic bile duct cancers, like perihilar cancers, because they begin outside of the liver.

Cancers that begin in different parts of the bile ducts can produce a variety of symptoms.

Bile duct cancer types are classified by cell type

Bile duct cancers can also be classified based on how the cancer cells appear under a microscope.

Cholangiocarcinomas account for nearly all bile duct cancers. These cancers are a type of adenocarcinoma, which begins in gland cells. Cholangiocarcinomas begin in the gland cells that line the ducts’ interiors.

Other types of bile duct cancer are far more uncommon. Sarcomas, lymphomas, and small cell cancers are examples of these. These uncommon types of bile duct cancer are not covered in our information.

Tumours of the bile duct that are benign

All bile duct tumours are not cancerous. Bile duct hamartomas and bile duct adenomas, for example, are benign (non-cancerous) tumours.

Other types of liver cancer

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of cancer that begins in the liver, far more common than cholangiocarcinoma. This type of cancer begins in the liver’s main cells.

Cancers that begin in other organs, such as the colon or rectum, can sometimes spread to the liver (metastasize). These are not true liver cancers that have spread. Colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver, for example, is still colorectal cancer, not liver cancer. The treatment and prognosis for cancer that metastasizes to the liver differ from those for cancer that begins in the liver. As a result, it’s critical to determine whether a tumour in the liver originated in the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma), the liver tissue itself (hepatocellular carcinoma), or another organ and spread to the liver.



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