Ampullary cancer


The ampulla of Vater is the site where the pancreatic duct and bile duct join and drain into the small intestine. Cancer generally starts from the DNA mutation of the normal cells. The mutation of cell causes uncontrolled duplication resulting in a formation of a mass of cells also known as a tumor. This tumor then begins to invade and destroy the healthy tissues. Ampullary cancer is a rare form of cancer and its cause is unknown. It can affect other nearby organs in the digestive system, including liver, pancreas and small intestine.

Signs and symptoms

The following are the signs and symptoms of ampullary cancer:

  • Jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes) is the most common symptom due to cancerous mass compressing the bile duct and causing the blockage.
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Pale/ clay-colored stool
  • Rectal bleeding

If you have any of these signs and symptoms and it worries you, please consult a doctor.

Risk factors

The following are the risk factors of ampullary cancer:

  • Old age. Common in people older than 70 years old
  • Gender. Men are more prone to having ampullary cancer.
  • Some inherited syndromes. Familial disorders may pose an increased risk of developing ampullary cancer such as familial adenomatous polyposis and Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer).