Cholangiocarcinoma is cancer of the bile ducts. Bile is produced by the liver, stored in the gall bladder, then released into the small intestine as needed in lipid (fat) digestion.


Flow of bile from site of synthesis to site of secretion

  • Hepatocytes (cells of the liver)

  • Bile canaliculi

  • Bile ductules

  • Bile ducts

  • Right and Left hepatic portal ducts

then either:

1) bile is released directly after synthesis by the liver into the small intestine

    • common hepatic duct

    • common bile duct

    • duodenum


2) bile is transported to the gall bladder for storage, then released when needed into the small intestine


  • cystic duct

  • gall bladder

  • cystic duct

  • common duct

  • duodenum


 Cholangiocarcinoma is a relatively rare form of cancer with an incidence of only 1-2 cases/100 000 in North America.


  • abdominal pain
  • jaundice
  • weight loss
  • generalized iching
  • fever
  • changes in stool and urine colour


  • low liver function test results
  • blood test
  • endoscopy


  • complete hepatic resection
  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • palliative measures: pain and symptoms management

Blumgart, Leslie, H, Bodniewicz, Jessica, Burke, Edmund, C, DeMatteo, Ronald, P, Jarnagin, William, R, Fong, Yuman, Gonen, Mithat, Klimstra, David, Youssef, Miranda. 2001. Staging, Resectability, and Outcome in 225 Patients With Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma. Annals of Surgery. 234 (4): 507-519.

 Martini, Fredric, H. 2006. Fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. 7th ed. Pearson Education Inc. USA.


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