Overview

Bile duct cancer is cancer that forms in the slender tubes (bile ducts) that carry the digestive fluid bile. Bile ducts connect your liver to your gallbladder and to your small intestine.

Bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, is a rare form of cancer that occurs mostly in people older than age 50, though it can occur at any age.

Doctors divide bile duct cancer into different types based on where the cancer occurs in the bile ducts:

  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma occurs in the parts of the bile ducts within the liver and is sometimes classified as a type of liver cancer.
  • Hilar cholangiocarcinoma occurs in the bile ducts just outside of the liver. This type is also called perihilar cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Distal cholangiocarcinoma occurs in the portion of the bile duct nearest the small intestine

Bile duct cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that progresses quickly and is difficult to treat.

Bile duct cancer care at Mayo Clinic