hepatitis and cirrhosis, including bile duct cancer in woman and she touching in the upper right portion of abdomen and above stomach symptoms of pain and suffering use for health care concept.

How Fast Does Bile Duct Cancer Spread?

Bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare cancer that starts in the bile ducts, which are tubes that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine. The cancer can be challenging to diagnose and treat, as it often presents with vague symptoms. 

In this article, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of bile duct cancer, how fast it progresses, and its different stages.

Causes and symptoms of bile duct cancer

The exact cause of bile duct cancer is unknown, but certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Chronic inflammation of the bile ducts, such as that caused by primary sclerosing cholangitis or chronic hepatitis B or C
  • Parasitic infections, such as liver fluke infestations
  • Congenital abnormalities of the bile ducts
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, such as thorium dioxide or radium
  • Family history of bile duct cancer

The symptoms of bile duct cancer can be vague and nonspecific, making it difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Some common symptoms include:

  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itchy skin
  • Fatigue

How fast does bile duct cancer progress?

Bile duct cancer is an aggressive cancer that can spread quickly. The speed at which it progresses depends on various factors, such as the location of the tumour, the stage of the cancer, and the type of cancer. In general, the cancer can spread to nearby organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and lymph nodes. If left untreated, bile duct cancer can quickly spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bones.

Bile duct cancer stages

Bile duct cancer is divided into four stages, depending on the size and location of the tumour and the extent of its spread. These stages are:

  • Stage 1: The cancer is confined to the bile ducts and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes.
  • Stage 2: The cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: The cancer has spread to nearby blood vessels or lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or bones.

Treatment options for bile duct cancer depend on the stage of the cancer and the overall health of the patient. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.

Get in touch

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer, it is essential to seek treatment from an experienced multidisciplinary team that can provide personalised treatment plans and second opinions on diagnosis. 

Birmingham HPB Clinic is a leading centre for the treatment of liver, pancreas, and bile duct cancer. We offer state-of-the-art treatments and technologies and our team provides comprehensive care to all our patients. Get in touch on 07508747723 or book your appointment online