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There is really no way to know for sure if you are going to get bile duct cancer. Certain factors can make you more likely to get it than another person. These are called risk factors. However, just because you have one or more risk factors does not necessarily mean you will get bile duct cancer. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not get bile duct cancer, or you can have few or no known risk factors and still get it.
Bile duct cancer is relatively rare, but some factors do increase your risk of developing it. Some are out of your control, such as your age. But other risk factors are within your control. If you agree with any of these statements, you could be at an increased risk for developing bile duct cancer.
I am older than age 65.
Most of the people diagnosed with bile duct cancer are over age 65.
I am obese. Being obese increases your risk of bile duct cancer as well as many other cancers.
I am from East Asia or the Middle East, or spend a lot of time there.
Bile duct cancer is much more common in East Asia and the Middle East, mostly because of a parasitic infection of the bile ducts with tiny worms called liver flukes, which is common there. This parasite increases the risk for bile duct cancer.
I have had other bile duct or liver diseases.
People who have long-lasting (chronic) inflammation of the bile ducts have an increased risk of developing bile duct cancer. This condition may be from a disease called sclerosing cholangitis. Another condition that can raise your risk for bile duct cancer is congenital cysts in bile ducts either inside or outside your liver. Ulcerative colitis, stones in the bile ducts, cirrhosis of the liver, or an abnormal junction between the distal common bile duct and the main pancreatic duct may also increase your risk.
I had X-rays with contrast injection many years ago. A substance that was used as a contrast agent in X-rays many years ago sometimes leads to bile duct cancer. This substance, called Thorotrast, was used in X-rays in the 1930s and 1940s until its cancer risks became known. If you had X-rays with Thorotrast during that time, you could be at an increased risk for bile duct cancer.
I work (or worked) with certain chemicals.
Certain chemicals may increase the risk for bile duct cancer. These chemicals include dioxin, nitrosamines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Nitrosamines are sometimes used in making pesticides, rubber, and metal. PCBs are no longer made in the United States. Some products made before 1977 may still contain PCBs. These products include old fluorescent lights and electrical devices, and old microscope and hydraulic oils.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.