Ray Manzarek Dies of Bile Duct Cancer

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Venice Beach, California, 1965. By good fortune, Ray Manzarek runs into Jim Morrison, a former UCLA classmate, and the world is blessed with the music of The Doors. The band sells 100 million albums.

Rosenheim, Germany, 2013. Fortunes turn for Mr. Manzarek, as he passes away from cholangiocarcinoma, bile duct cancer, a rare cancer that afflicts less than 4,000 people a year in the U.S.

Cancer is never fair, but some are just cruel. Bile duct cancer is cruel. It starts small, in the tube that delivers bile from the liver and gallbladder into the intestine, helping digest fats and getting rid of waste products. By the time the tumor is discovered, it has often grown within the liver and spread (metastasized) both near and far. Often the first symptom is jaundice, the yellowish coloration of the skin that signals elevated bilirubin levels in the blood. Bile can't travel though the blocked bile duct and it backs up, causing inflammation of the liver and pancreas. Intense skin itching, or pruritus, accompanies the jaundice and is followed by nausea, diarrhea, and weight loss. Only one-third of affected patients develop early abdominal pain.