Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma)

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cancer 101: Cancer Explained

Can bile duct cancer be prevented?

Since the cause of bile duct cancer is uncertain, specific methods of prevention do not exist. However, preventing liver inflammation and cirrhosis may decrease the risk of developing this cancer. This includes moderating the use of alcohol, being vaccinated for the hepatitis B virus, and abstaining from risky behaviors that might cause infection with hepatitis C.

As with all diseases that tend to develop at an older age, living a healthy lifestyle may extend lifespan as well. This includes not smoking, eating a balanced diet, keeping physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight.

What are the statistics for bile duct cancer?

There are approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of bile duct cancer diagnosed each year in the United States or 1 case per 100,000 people.

In patients who have bile duct cancer located in the liver hilum, 40% to 60% of patients undergo surgery that completely removes the tumor and the average survival is 24 months. For patients with tumor in the same location, but cannot be completely removed, average survival is 21 months.


Keane, M.G. and S.P. Pereira. “Improving detection and treatment of liver cancer.” Practitioner. 257.1763 (2013): 21-26.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/1/2015

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