Cholangiocarcinoma also known as bile duct cancer commonly be found in people 50 years old and above. This type of cancer usually presents with sign on the later stages and therefore making it difficult to be cured. It is the type of cancer that is found in the bile ducts which are the thin tubes that carry bile fluid in the digestive system. They are those tubes that connect the liver to the gallbladder as well as the small intestine.

Cholangiocarcinoma could be found in different location of the biliary tract hence the name derived from the site of origin that occurred these are such as:

  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. This type of cancer is found in the bile duct inside the liver, also known as intrahepatic bile duct cancer.
  • Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. This type of cancer is found in the bile duct outside the liver. A categorized group of extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma are:
    • Hilar cholangiocarcinoma. This type is found outside the liver and also called perihilar cholangiocarcinoma or Klatskin tumor.
    • Distal cholangiocarcinoma. This type is found furthest from the biliary tract, near to the small intestine.

Signs and symptoms

The following symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma are:

  • Yellow coloration of the eyes and skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Light colored/pale stools
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain under the right side of the rib
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Dark urine

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your doctor immediately. Early detection and diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma can increase the outcome of the treatment.


Cholangiocarcinoma occurs when there is a change of DNA in the bile ducts. The DNA in the cells alters the cell’s behavior. Therefore, the cell mutation in the biliary tract causes uncontrolled duplication resulting in forming a mass of cells also known as a tumor. This tumor then begins to invade and destroy the healthy tissues.

Risk factors

There are multiple factors that can increase the risk such as the following:

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis. This occurs when there is a hardening and scarring of the bile ducts.
  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Congenital bile duct abnormalities.
  • A liver parasite. This is most common in South-East Asia and occurs when eating raw fish cause ingestion of a liver parasite.
  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes. People who have type 1 or 2 diabetes have an increased risk.