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Surgery for bile duct cancer

surgical oncology

What is surgery?

Surgery is used to diagnose, stage and treat cancer, and to manage certain cancer-related symptoms. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our experienced surgeons have performed thousands of procedures and will discuss the surgical options that are best suited to your individual needs.

Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery or not depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age, physical fitness and other coexisting medical conditions the patient may have.

For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. These nonsurgical treatments may be administered before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy) to help prevent cancer growth, spread or recurrence.

Early in the treatment planning process, we plan for and proactively manage anticipated side effects from surgery. Our nutritionists, rehabilitation therapists and naturopathic clinicians work together with your surgical oncologist to support healing and quality of life. Our reconstructive surgeons perform procedures to restore the body's appearance and function when needed, at the time of surgery or following surgery.

Surgical oncology

Video: Surgical Oncology

Surgical Oncology

Surgery for bile duct cancer

Bile duct cancers are classified based on whether or not they can be completely removed (resected). Depending on the size and location of your tumor, the cancer may be removed by surgery.

Surgery for resectable cancers

For resectable cancers, the type of operation depends on the location of the cancer. For intrahepatic bile duct cancers, your surgical oncology team will likely perform a partial hepatectomy (removal of part of the liver).

For perihilar and distal bile duct cancers, the surgery removes the bile duct and nearby lymph nodes along with a part of the liver, gall bladder, pancreas and/or small intestine, depending on your disease status.

Bile duct cancer surgery is a major operation and can have serious complications in some cases. Our pain team prepares for post-operative pain, while our nutrition team works closely with your oncologist to help manage any digestive changes, before and after surgery.

Surgery for unresectable cancers

For people with unresectable tumors that cannot be removed with surgery, your care team at CTCA will discuss a variety of innovative bile duct cancer treatment options, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy and ablative therapy.

In some cases, your doctor may consider surgery to help control or reduce symptoms caused by a bile duct tumor. A biliary stent or biliary catheter may be inserted into the bile duct to keep it open when the tumor is blocking the bile duct. Another option is a biliary bypass to allow bile to reach the small intestine and reduce symptoms, such as jaundice or itching, by connecting parts of the bile duct before and after the blockage.

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