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Cholangiocarcinomas (bile duct cancer)

Cholangiocarcinomas (bile duct cancer) - Treatments

​After the bile duct cancer is found and staged, your specialist team will discuss your treatment options with you. In choosing a treatment plan, these are some factors to consider:

  • The location and extent of the cancer
  • Whether the cancer is resectable (removable by surgery)
  • The likely side effects of surgery and other alternative treatment
  • Your overall health and fitness for surgery
  • The chances of curing the disease, extending life, or relieving symptoms

The main types of treatment for bile duct cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Palliative therapy
  • Combination of various treatment options may be offered as well to optimise the treatment results

Surgery is often the best treatment for CCA when it is at an early stage and hasn't spread to nearby blood vessels or distant organs. Other methods have not been shown to be as effective as surgery in treating CCA.  However, due to its advanced stage at first presentation, surgery may not be possible for some patients.

As surgery is the only effective method for treating CCA, it is important that a person with suspected CCA has a proper assessment by a specialist team lead by a liver surgeon is known as a Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) surgeon. Surgery is currently safe and effective in treating CCA if amenable.

Depending on the location of the cancer, surgery for CCA includes cutting out the tumour (Liver resection) or Enbloc removal of the bile duct and its surrounding organs and lymph nodes. (E.g. Pancreaticoduodenectomy or also known as a "Whipple" procedure ; or Radical bile duct resection).

Liver transplant – A small selected group of Intrahepatic CCA patients may be suitable for a liver transplantation.

Clinical trials test new drugs, surgical techniques and strategies for advancing treatment and care. There may be suitable clinical trials available for selected patients. Please consult your specialist for advice.

Cholangiocarcinomas (bile duct cancer) - Other Information

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