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Bile Duct Cancer


The treatment options for bile duct cancer include:

  • Surgery: Several types of surgeries can be performed to treat bile duct cancer. In the case of intrahepatic bile duct cancers, the patients undergoes partial hepatectomy (removal of a part of the liver) or hepatic lobectomy (removing a whole lobe). These surgeries are complicated and require experienced surgeons. In the case of perihilar bile duct cancer, the surgeon removes the liver, bile duct, nearby lymph nodes, gallbladder, and some parts of the intestine and pancreas. The Whipple procedure is used for managing distal bile duct cancers.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves using high-energy radiation to destroy the cancerous cells of the bile duct. Radiation therapy may be external beam radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy. External beam radiation therapy may be performed through various techniques, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy, and stereotactic body radiotherapy. Chemoradiation, on the other hand, involves the simultaneous use of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Internal radiation therapy, also known as brachytherapy, is performed by placing the radioactive material into the tumor or near the cancerous cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used with or without radiation therapy and surgery. The oncologist recommends chemotherapy in patients with advanced cholangiocarcinoma to slow the disease progression and relieve symptoms. Chemotherapy involves using drugs that kill rapidly dividing cells of the body, including cancer cells.
  • Targeted therapy: Several processes in the cancer cells are specific and vital to their growth and existence. Targeted therapy interferes with those processes and kills or stops the growth of cancer cells. Targeted therapy involves the use of drugs, but side effects are fewer compared to chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy enhances the immune system of the patient to target cancer cells. Further, certain chemicals are secreted by cancer cells that help them to evade the immune system. Immunotherapy interferes with the secretion of those chemicals and makes the cancer cells more vulnerable to being killed by the immune system.
  • Biliary drainage: Bile drainage relieves the signs and symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma by restoring bile flow. The surgeon may also perform bypass surgery to make a new route for bile flow around the tumor.
  • Photodynamic therapy: This therapy involves administering light-sensitive chemicals that accumulate in the cancer cells and then killing them through laser. The patients require multiple sessions of photodynamic therapy. It slows the progression of the disease. The patients need to avoid sun exposure after the treatment.
  • Heating cancer cells: Heating cancer cells through an electric current help to kill cancer cells. The procedure is done under the guidance of imaging techniques, such as ultrasound.

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