Your treatment options for your bile duct cancer will depend on the specifics of your cancer, such as the size, location and extent, as well as your health and personal preferences. Your treatment team will work with you to find a treatment that meets your needs.
Treatments for bile duct cancer may include:
- Surgery. When possible, doctors try to remove as much of the cancer as they can. For very small bile duct cancers, this involves removing part of the bile duct and joining the cut ends. For more-advanced bile duct cancers, nearby liver tissue, pancreas tissue or lymph nodes may be removed as well.
- Liver transplant. Surgery to remove your liver and replace it with one from a donor (liver transplant) may be an option for certain types of bile duct cancers. For many people, a liver transplant is a cure for bile duct cancer, but there is a risk that bile duct cancer will recur after a liver transplant.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be an option for people with advanced bile duct cancers to help slow the disease and relieve signs and symptoms.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy sources, such as X-rays, to damage or destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy can involve a machine that directs radiation beams at your body (external beam radiation) or it can involve placing radioactive material inside your body near the site of your cancer (brachytherapy).
- Photodynamic therapy. In photodynamic therapy, a light-sensitive chemical is injected into a vein and accumulates in the fast-growing cancer cells. Laser light directed at the cancer causes a chemical reaction in the cancer cells, killing them. This treatment can help relieve signs and symptoms, and may also slow cancer growth.
- Biliary drainage. Biliary drainage is a procedure to restore the flow of bile. Biliary drainage can involve bypass surgery to reroute the bile around the cancer or stents to hold open a bile duct being collapsed by cancer. Biliary drainage helps relieve signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer.