Bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, affects the thin tubes that transport bile from the liver and gallbladder into the intestines. This form of cancer is uncommon, usually affecting an estimated 8,000 people in the U.S. every year.
Bile duct cancer is categorized based on the location of the tumor and the kind of cells involved. The three main types of bile duct cancer include:
- Intraheptic – This occurs in parts of the bile ducts within the liver and is sometimes identified as a form of liver cancer.
- Hilar or perihilar – This refers to bile duct cancer occurring just outside of the liver.
- Distal – This type of bile duct cancer occurs in the part of the bile duct nearest to the small intestine.
Causes and Risk Factors
As with all other forms of cancer, bile duct cancer is mainly caused by a genetic mutation that causes cells to grow abnormally and out of control. The exact causes that result in this genetic mutation are unknown. Family history may play a role. If your parents or close relatives have the disease, you may have an increased risk of diagnosis, but this risk is low. Most cases of the disease in cancer patients are not linked to family history.
Certain other factors may increase your risk of developing the disease. Excessive alcohol use and smoking are also associated with a higher risk of bile duct cancer. Problems in your liver and bile ducts, including inflammation, irritation, and obstructions, can contribute to digestive issues or chronic diseases, some of which are considered risk factors for bile duct cancer. These include:
- Bile duct stones
- Ulcerative colitis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging
The most common signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer include:
- Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Stools that are white in color
- Itchy skin
- General fatigue and weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden weight loss
If you or your doctor suspect bile duct cancer based on your symptoms, they can perform a variety of tests to diagnose your condition. Your doctor can perform a liver function test to determine any abnormalities in your liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts. Certain blood tests also allow doctors to test for common tumor markers. However, these may not be conclusive as other bile duct problems can potentially increase these tumor marker levels in the blood.
Along with lab tests, endoscopic and laparoscopic ultrasounds allow the doctor to see more detailed images of the bile ducts. Other imaging tests for diagnosis include a CT scan, MRIs, and cholangiograms.
Staging also categorizes the progression and severity of the cancer. Bile duct cancer is categorized from stage 0 to IV and based on the TNM system. “T” refers to a localized tumor. “N” refers to cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. “M” refers to cancer that has metastasized.
About Alternative/Natural Treatment of Bile Duct Cancer
Typical treatments for bile duct cancer usually comprise surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. While these treatments may be effective, they are often associated with negative side effects that can leave you weak and physically depleted, preventing you from living your life or fighting off the cancer.
Alternative treatments can help by mitigating side effects and providing natural methods for better health and recovery. Immunity Therapy Center offers a full range of alternative, natural treatments for bile duct cancer. Our team is committed to providing you with personalized treatment plans that can be customized to your specific needs and adjusted based on changes to your condition. With a wide range of alternative treatments, we can find a solution that fits you. One-on-one consultations also give us the opportunity to learn more about you as a person to maintain a positive relationship. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us today.