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Cholangiocarcinoma treatment recommendations are usually based on several factors, including the type and stage of the bile duct cancer and a patient’s overall health and preferences. A treatment plan may include therapies designed to destroy cancerous cells, shrink tumors and address symptoms and side effects. At Moffitt Cancer Center, our multispecialty team takes a highly individualized approach to cholangiocarcinoma treatment and support. We also prioritize patient education based on our belief that a well-informed patient can make the best possible treatment decisions.

When possible, surgery is the main form of treatment for cholangiocarcinoma. If the cancer cannot be completely removed surgically, additional treatments, such as chemotherapy, will be necessary. Chemotherapy may also be recommended prior to surgery to destroy cancerous cells and shrink a tumor, or as a main form of cholangiocarcinoma treatment if surgery is not an option. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to control the symptoms of advanced-stage bile duct cancer.

The surgeons at Moffitt perform the following types of surgery for cholangiocarcinoma treatment:

  • Surgical removal of the bile duct – If the cancer has not spread, the bile duct may be surgicay removed, along with some nearby lymph nodes.
  • Partial hepatectomy – Depending on the location of the tumor, part of the liver may be removed. In some cases, the remaining part of the organ may be able to regenerate itself over the course of several weeks or months.
  • Whipple procedure – If the tumor is situated near the pancreas, a pancreaticoduodenectomy may be recommended to remove part or all of the pancreas and parts of the bile duct, small intestine and stomach. To reinstate the flow of bile, the surgeon can then reconnect the remaining part of the bile duct to the small intestine.
  • Liver transplantation – In rare cases, the complete removal of the liver and bile duct may be followed by the transplantation of a liver from an organ donor.
  • Stent placement and surgical bypass – If a tumor cannot be completely removed through surgery, a surgeon may be able to place a plastic or metal tube (stent) in the bile duct to help keep it open and allow bile to bypass a blockage.

At Moffitt, we also have a robust clinical trials program through which we offer our patients opportunities to be among the first to benefit from promising new forms of cholangiocarcinoma treatment, including surgical techniques, chemotherapy drugs and drug combinations, targeted therapies and radiation treatment techniques. As a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt has received national recognition for its work to advance the treatment of bile duct cancer and other forms of cancer.

If you are interested in receiving cholangiocarcinoma treatment at Moffitt, our tumor board can develop an appropriate plan for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.