Bile Duct Cancer

Bile duct cancer occurs in the tubes (bile ducts) that transport digestive fluid to and from the liver. Also known as cholangiocarcinoma, the cancer can be found in the part of the tube that is either inside or outside the liver. Bile is the digestive fluid produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and carried into bile ducts when the body needs fat. A very rare but particularly aggressive cancer, bile duct cancer typically affects adults 50 years of age or older. It can cause jaundice or yellowing of the skin and eyes, white-colored stools, weight loss, and extremely itchy skin. Bile duct cancer is considered difficult to treat, but doctors may recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.


Patients who choose UAB Medicine for their gastrointestinal (GI) cancer care benefit from our experienced specialists, the most advanced technology, and – in some cases – medications and other treatments being evaluated in clinical research trials that are not available at other medical centers. These resources are combined through our Pancreatobiliary Disease Center, which provides cutting-edge care for pancreatic, bile duct, and gallbladder cancers; pancreatic cysts; pancreatitis; bile duct injuries; and complex benign (non-cancerous) diseases of the pancreas and bile duct. UAB Medicine is well-equipped to diagnose and manage pancreatobiliary disorders or consult with the patient’s current providers as part of an ongoing care plan.

Care is provided by an outstanding team that includes surgeons, diagnostic and interventional radiologists, medical and radiation oncologists, gastroenterologists, critical care intensivists, nurses, genetic counselors, and other specialists. Our standard of care begins with a timely and thorough initial assessment of each case, followed by same-day testing and/or intervention if necessary. Our collaborative team will then develop and implement a personalized care plan that best suits the needs and preferences of each individual patient. Our wide range of treatment options includes minimally invasive surgical, endoscopic, and radiologic techniques, as well as access to integrative medicine and supportive therapy.

We employ a unique approach to identifying and treating both pre-cancerous lesions of the pancreas and individuals who are at a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, in the hope of avoiding the development of cancers in the future. Patients found to have malignancies will be offered the opportunity to have their tumors tested through DNA sequencing, and, when possible, participate in appropriate research studies of promising new therapies.

We understand that a GI cancer diagnosis can produce a high level of stress for patients, so we provide a nurse navigator to help organize your care. A hallmark of the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, our Nurse Navigator program helps streamline your introduction to UAB Medicine by arranging for your medical records, setting your appointments, and guiding you throughout the process. This allows your treatment team to deliver more efficient care.





UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for bile duct cancer. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials