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Bile duct cancer surgery is usually the recommended form of treatment for cholangiocarcinoma. The goal of surgical intervention is to completely remove the cancer; if this is not possible, surgery may also be performed to help alleviate symptoms and address complications, such as a bile duct blockage.

When is surgery recommended for cholangiocarcinoma?

If a bile duct tumor is determined to be removable, the type of bile duct cancer surgery recommended will depend on the location of the tumor. For instance, if the tumor is situated:

  • Within the liver (intrahepatic), a surgeon may perform a procedure called a partial hepatectomy to remove the affected part of the liver, or a hepatic lobectomy to remove an entire lobe of the liver. The remaining part of the organ can continue to function normally and potentially regenerate its mass over time.
  • Where the branches of the bile duct leave the liver (perihilar), a surgeon may remove parts of the liver, bile duct, gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes and possibly parts of the pancreas and small intestine.
  • Near the small intestine (distal), a surgeon may perform a Whipple procedure to remove the bile duct, nearby lymph nodes and parts of the pancreas and small intestine.

In certain cases, a surgeon may perform bile duct cancer surgery to remove the liver and bile duct, and then transplant a liver from a donor. To help manage the symptoms of a nonremovable tumor, a surgeon can place a plastic or metal tube (stent) in the bile duct to help keep it open, or perform a biliary bypass procedure to create a pathway for bile to flow around a tumor that is blocking the bile duct.

Moffitt Cancer Center has surgeons who specialize in treating cholangiocarcinoma and are highly skilled and experienced in performing the latest techniques in bile duct cancer surgery. We treat more patients with this rare condition than other cancer centers, resulting in an unsurpassed level of expertise. This translates directly to improved patient outcomes and better quality of life.

If you’d like to explore treatment options for bile duct cancer, including surgery, the experts at Moffitt can answer your questions and recommend an individualized treatment plan for you. Call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are not required to consult with our expert oncologists.