Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer that begins in the bile ducts.
Cholangiocarcinoma is the clinical name for bile duct carcinoma.
The bile duct system is like a network of bile streams called ductules originating in the liver and then feeding down to form two larger ducts. Think of two networks of streams coming together – a right network and a left network.
These two ducts are called the “Left” and “Right” “Hepatic Ducts” which join together and form one common bile duct. This area is referred to as the “Hilar region” or more recently the “Perihilar” region. (Hilar means slit or opening)
The “Common bile duct” tube is about 125 -150 mm long, extending from the liver to the small intestine called the Duodenum. The bile duct’s function is to move a fluid called bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it helps digest the fats in food.
About one-third of the way down the common bile duct, the gallbladder (an organ that stores bile) attaches by a small duct called the cystic duct.
The common bile duct then passes down through part of the pancreas before it empties into the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum), next to where the pancreatic duct also enters the small Duodenum.
(Means location where the cancer begins)
Primary Tumours can develop in any part of the bile duct and are named after their exact location –
Click each type below to see more
- iCCA: Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
- pCCA: Perihilar cholangiocarcinoma
- dCCA: Distal cholangiocarcinoma
Intrahepatic CCA occurs inside the liver where cancer develops in the hepatic bile ducts or the smaller intrahepatic biliary ducts. In some cases, patients express a combined diagnosis.
Perihilar (Hilar or Klatskin Tumor) Cholangiocarcinoma
These cancers develop where the right and left hepatic ducts have joined and are leaving the liver. These are the most common type of cholangiocarcinoma accounting for more than half of all bile duct cancers.
Distal CCA occurs outside the liver after the right and left hepatic bile ducts have joined to form the common bile duct. This type of cancer is found where the common bile duct passes through the pancreas and into the small intestine.
Because perihilar and distal bile duct cancers start outside the liver, they are often grouped together and referred to as extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
Cholangiocarcinoma can also be divided into types based on how the cancer cells look under the microscope.
More than 95% of bile duct cancers are carcinomas and most are adenocarcinomas.
Adenocarcinomas are cancer that begins in the glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells are found in epithelial tissue (Skin layer) that lines and protects internal organs. These glandular cells make and release substances such as mucus, digestive juices, or other fluids to protect the skin layer.