Symptoms

Cholangiocarcinoma symptoms

Liver & Bile duct illustration

Liver and Bile ducts

Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), or bile duct cancer, is a primary liver cancer which starts in the inside lining of the ducts of the biliary tree. Depending on which part of the bile duct CCA develops in, it is categorised as one of three types: intrahepatic CCA, perihilar (or hilar) CCA, or extrahepatic/distal CCA.  To find out more, click here

Cholangiocarcinoma causes few symptoms in its early stages. Any symptoms that there are tend to be quite vague, such as nausea and loss of appetite.

There are often few specific symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma until the disease is more advanced. Symptoms can then can include:

  • Jaundice – which happens when a tumour blocks the flow of bile from the liver to the intestine, causing bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues. When that happens:
    • the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow
    • urine also becomes a dark yellow colour
    • stools (bowel motions) are pale
    • the skin may become itchy

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • High temperatures and shivering
  • Weight loss

The symptoms listed for cholangiocarcinoma can be caused by many things other than cancer, but any of these symptoms should always be checked by a doctor, and liver function tests should be carried out.

Gall bladder cancer symptoms

As with bile duct cancer, early gall bladder cancer often causes no symptoms.  Most tumours are only discovered at an advanced stage. They can cause a variety of symptoms including sickness, high temperatures, weight loss and pain in the abdomen.

If the cancer blocks the bile duct it may stop the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the small bowel. This causes bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues, leading to jaundice, with yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes, the urine also becomes a dark yellow colour and stools (bowel motions) are pale. The skin may become itchy.

The symptoms listed for gall bladder cancer can be caused by many things other than cancer, but any of these symptoms should always be checked by a doctor.

The Indigestion Question

As so many seem to experience this early on, we are often asked if indigestion is a symptom of cholangiocarcinoma.  The read the answers of the experts, click here

January 2021