Bile Duct Cancer, extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma

About Bile Duct Cancer

At Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center, patients with bile duct cancer receive their care from a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis, treatment and research of gastrointestinal cancer.

Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare cancer involving the bile ducts. Bile ducts are the structures within the gastrointestinal tract that carry bile. Bile is the digestive fluid excreted by the liver, which flows via the bile ducts into the intestine.

There are two types of cholangiocarcinomas:

  • Intrahepatic: cancer that arises from within the liver
  • Extrahepatic: cancer that arises from outside of the liver and distal bile ducts

Cholangiocarcinomas can be further classified based on the tissue from which they arise. Most cholangiocarcinomas are adenocarcinomas, meaning they arise from glandular tissue.

Bile duct cancer is rare, accounting for about 3 percent of all gastrointestinal cancers.

Penn Medicine's multidisciplinary approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment provides better outcomes and gives patients access to the most advanced treatment, surgical techniques and clinical trials.

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more About Bile Duct Cancer

Diagnosing Bile Duct Cancer

An accurate cancer diagnosis from trusted cancer specialists is the first step in getting personalized treatment options for treating bile duct cancer.

Patients who choose Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center benefit from a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists including gastroenterologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons who work together to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan custom designed for every patient with bile duct cancer.

Cancer specialists at Penn Medicine are highly experienced in using the most advanced techniques for diagnosing cancer and are actively researching better and more precise ways to detect bile duct cancer.

An accurate diagnosis is an important step in planning cancer treatment, so it’s important patients know that when they come to the Abramson Cancer Center, they are taking an important step in getting the best cancer treatment available.

Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse to help them make an appointment with the right physician. Penn Medicine’s contact center has experienced cancer nurses available and ready to guide patients in finding the cancer specialist right for them.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN (7366).

Read more Diagnosing Bile Duct Cancer

Bile Duct Cancer Treatment

Following the diagnosis and staging of bile duct cancer, cancer specialists at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center develop a personalized treatment plan. Penn’s treatment options for bile duct cancer include:

  • Surgery
    • Bile duct resection
    • Partial hepatectomy
    • Whipple procedure
    • Surgical biliary bypass
    • Endoscopic stent placement
  • Radiation therapy
    • 3-D conformal radiation
    • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
    • Volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
    • Proton therapy
    • Brachytherapy
  • Chemotherapy and biologic therapies
  • Clinical trials
  • Other treatments
    • Integrative medicine and wellness
    • Palliative care
    • Penn Home Care and Hospice

Because navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment options can be difficult, patients who wish to connect with a cancer specialist at Penn Medicine can speak with a cancer nurse, who can help them make an appointment with the right physician.

To connect with a cancer nurse at Penn Medicine, patients should call 800-789-PENN.

Read more Bile Duct Cancer Treatment

Bile Duct Cancer Survivorship

Survivorship programs at Penn Medicine are a distinct phase of bile duct cancer care and are designed to help patients' transition from their cancer treatment routine to a post-cancer care lifestyle.

Cancer treatments can result in physical, emotional and financial complications long after the therapy is complete.

Read more Bile Duct Cancer Survivorship


Andrew Vartanian

Immediately after being told by his primary care physician that the Abramson Cancer Center is one of the best cancer institutions in the country, Andrew Vartanian made his first appointment.

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