What Is Cholangiocarcinoma?

The liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and network of bile ducts

Cholangiocarcinoma (also called cholangioma or bile duct cancer) is a rare, malignant tumor of the bile duct, accounting for fewer than 1% of all cancers. Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of adenocarcinoma ("adeno" for gland) that originates in the mucous glands of the epithelium, or surface layer, of the bile ducts.

Bile ducts

Bile ducts are channels that carry bile or "gall" from the liver where it is secreted to the gall bladder for storage. The bile is discharged in the duodenum (the first ⅓ of the small intestine) primarily to aid digestion by emulsifying fats.  The bile ducts start as small tributaries in the liver and merge into larger ducts. These ultimately lead to the common hepatic duct. The common hepatic duct then leaves the liver and attaches to the gall bladder via the cystic duct, which then empties into the duodenum via the common bile duct. The pancreatic duct, which delivers pancreatic enzymes to the intestines to help digestion, also enters the duodenum at the same site. It sometimes merges with the common bile duct before entering the duodenum.

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