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Bile Duct Cancer Surgery
Best Bile Duct Cancer Surgeons in Dubai

Exploring Treatment Options For Bile Duct Cancer


Bile duct cancer is a disease that affects the bile duct and can cause complications for the liver. An average of upto 2  people per 100000 population are diagnosed with bile duct cancer annually.But in certain part of China and Thailand incidence can be very high. There are two main types, including intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile duct cancer, and the disease is mostly found among older patients. Early diagnosis significantly improves the outcome and survival rate for bile duct cancer. There are several treatment options available, but patients need to understand factors that will influence which treatments will provide them with the best possible outcome

Understanding What Factors Affect Bile Duct Cancer Treatment Options

When you are diagnosed with bile duct cancer, the first thing that doctors will consider is the type. The two types include:

  • Intrahepatic: This is when the location of bile duct cancer is inside your liver.
  • Extrahepatic: This type of bile duct cancer sits outside of your liver.

Apart from understanding if the cancer is intra or extrahepatic, other factors also play a role. These include:

  • The specific location of the bile duct cancer.
  • The stage of cancer and how advanced it is. .
  • The patient’s age
  • Overall condition of the patient including other diseases

There are several treatments available, which can include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Palliative care

Surgery for Bile Duct Cancer

Surgery is the only curative treatment for bile duct cancer. It helps to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue as well.

During surgery, the surgeon aims to remove the cancer completely. The extensiveness of the surgery depends on the cancer stage and its location. It may involve the removal of the complete extra hepatic bile duct with or without the removal of part of the liver and any other organs close by.

This depends on the local spread of cancer.

Chemotherapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Chemotherapy plays an important role in the treatment of bile duct cancer. But chemotherapy is a supportive treatment, it is not a curative treatment.

The chemotherapy may be given before surgery or after surgery for bile duct cancer. Sometimes if cancer can not be operated chemotherapy may be the sole treatment option.

Chemotherapy drugs can be given to you through oral administration or directly into a vein. The chemicals in these drugs then travel to the area where the cancer cells are located. Some options enhance the delivery of the drugs to the bile duct that has a cancerous growth.

Radiation Therapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Radiation therapy is also an option for patients with bile duct cancer. This therapy focuses on using radiation as a way to kill the cancerous cells.

External beam radiation is a common treatment option in this category. Your doctor will use a special machine that sends of radiation beam into your body. The machine is adjusted to target the area where your bile duct cancer is located.

Sometimes, doctors use brachytherapy instead. In this case, a surgeon places a material that is radioactive inside the body. The location of the material depends on where the cancer is situated.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can be combined.

Immunotherapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Immunotherapy is an emerging treatment option that focuses on strengthening the immune system in such a way that it can fight against cancerous cells. Normally, cancer cells can disguise themselves, and that’s why the immune system isn’t always able to effectively kill them. However, by teaching your immune system how to identify cancer cells, immunotherapy offers a more holistic approach to cancer treatment.

Sometimes, your doctor may recommend combining immunotherapy with chemotherapy. There is no fixed timeline for these treatments, as they vary from one patient to another.

Photodynamic Therapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Studies show that photodynamic therapy is effective in cases of hilar cholangiocarcinoma. This is a bile duct cancer that affects the bile duct connecting the liver to the gallbladder.

The therapy uses laser light on photosensitizers. These photosensitizers then help to kill cancer cells in the bile duct. While it’s not the ideal treatment for every patient, it still offers a viable alternative to other therapies, as it is a less invasive procedure.

Your doctor may recommend combining photodynamic therapy with other treatment options in some cases. This recommendation will be based on your unique circumstances.

The photosensitizing agents are delivered to the area where the cancer cells are located through different methods. Once they reach this area, a laser is used to activate them. This has a cytotoxic effect on the cancer cells and, in turn, helps to kill them. There is a special kind of light that specialists use to activate the agents they deliver to the cancer site.

Liver transplant for bile duct cancer

A liver transplant is a relatively new treatment for bile duct cancer. Certain bile duct cancer which can be removed completely by surgery but can be removed completely with liver replacement can be considered for liver transplant. Your surgeon will discuss with you if a transplant can be an option for you.

Palliative Care for Bile Duct Cancer

Most of the bile duct cancers are detected at a late stage. So a curative treatment may not be possible. In this situation goal of treatment is to provide a good quality of life along with an attempt to prolong survival.

This may involve multidisciplinary care and will involve expertise in gastroenterology, oncology, surgeon, pain care team, and other discipline.

In palliative care, the main aim is to reduce the symptoms of the patient. This helps to improve their quality of life and can also sometimes include methods that slow down the growth and spreading of the cancer.

Pain relief is one of the primary goals of palliative care. A team of specialists works closely with both the patient and their family to explain what supportive care techniques can do, as well as discuss the available options.

Palliative care is often combined with other treatments. The main treatments will focus on killing cancer cells or stopping their growth, while supportive care helps to minimize pain and other symptoms. This combination can make patients feel better and also increase their lifespan.

Biliary Drainage for Bile Duct Cancer

Bile duct cancer can result in a blockage. This happens when the tumor presses against the tube, which allows bile acids to drain from the duct. The bile then moves back to the liver and can cause serious problems, including jaundice.

Biliary drainage focuses on helping bile to drain properly from the liver into the small intestine.

If you need to go for biliary drainage, there are two types. They include:

  • PTBD: Also called percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage, it uses a bag that sits on the outside of the body. Bile drains both to the duodenum and to the bag through a catheter.
  • EBD: Endoscopic biliary drainage uses an endoscope through your mouth. The procedure can either use a tube to drain the bile through the nose. Sometimes, the surgeon will place a stent into the bile duct. This can help to offer internal drainage, ensuring bile reaches the small intestine.

Your doctor will do a few tests to determine which option will offer the most benefits throughout your treatment plan.

Bile Duct Cancer Treatment at King’s College Hospital London in Dubai

Being diagnosed with bile duct cancer causes distress and worries, especially when you do not understand what the best solution is to treat the disease. The team of experts at King’s College Hospital London in Dubai have extensive experience in cancer treatment. Our facility uses state-of-the-art technology and methods to offer you the best treatment choices for bile duct cancer. Our team works closely with every patient to ensure a personalized treatment program can be developed. This helps to enhance the level of care and provide treatment options that are tailored toward every patient’s unique situation.

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and would like to talk about treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our experts.