Introduction to Cholangiocarcinoma

Introduction to Cholangiocarcinoma

Although cholangiocarcinoma (pronounced kol-an-gee-oh-car-sin-oh-ma) or bile duct cancer, is considered rare, worldwide it is the second most common primary liver cancer.  It is difficult to diagnose accurately and early, so by the time of diagnosis it is often too advanced for surgery – which is currently the only potential cure.

Cancer data from many western countries have shown that the incidence and mortality rates of cholangiocarcinoma have been increasing1. In 2019 cholangiocarcinoma was the cause of 2,754 deaths in England alone2, and this is consistent with findings in the USA3 and Canada4.

The parallel increase in mortality would suggest that this is a ‘true’ increase and not just the result of improved diagnostic testing or imaging2. Although most cases occur in people over 60 years of age, this disease appears to be increasing across all age groups including younger people. The cause of this ongoing rise is currently unknown.

The aim of the ‘Cholangiocarcinoma’ section of AMMF’s website is to provide in one, readily accessible place, as much information on cholangiocarcinoma as possible, including an overview of what cholangiocarcinoma is, what its symptoms are, how it is diagnosed and what treatment options there are (treatments options listed will be those available within the UK).

“Cholangiocarcinoma is a devastating cancer. It seems to be increasing and we don’t know why. It presents late in its course, is difficult to diagnose accurately and early, and most cases cannot be cured. However, there are several treatment options available. Clearly there is a great need for ongoing research to find out the causes of this disease so we can develop better diagnostic tests and more effective treatments.”

– Professor Shahid A Khan, Consultant Physician & Senior Lecturer, Imperial College London

2Acknowledgement: (National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS) at NHS Digital

Medical Disclaimer
All information on AMMF’s website is for guidance only.  It is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other health care professional. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your condition or treatment.  AMMF is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of damages resulting from the use (or misuse) of information contained in or implied by the information on this site.

June 2022