metastatic Cholangiocarcinomas


What is Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma?

Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma, commonly referred to as metastatic bile duct cancer, is a type of cancer that has spread to other areas of the body from its point of origin - usually the gallbladder, bile ducts, or liver. It is a relatively rare form of cancer, and unfortunately, most cases are not found until the disease has already advanced, making it hard to treat. There are some treatments available, however, which can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of treatments.

Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma is the most serious of all biliary tract diseases, and it can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and distant organs, including your ovaries, bones, and brains. In addition, it is an extremely difficult cancer to diagnose as the signs and symptoms are often not specific. Most people will not show any symptoms until the cancer is advanced.

Symptoms of Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma

The signs and symptoms of Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma can differ depending on the specific type and the cancer's location. Common signs and symptoms of metastatic bile duct cancer include:

  • Pain in the abdomen or upper right part of the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes)
  • General feeling of being unwell
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine
  • Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen

Risk Factors for Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma

The exact cause of metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma is unknown, however, there are several factors that may increase the risk of developing it, such as:

  • Age – Those over the age of 70 have an increased risk of developing metastatic bile duct cancer, with the risk further increasing for those over the age of 80.
  • Gender – Men are more likely than women to develop this type of cancer.
  • Family history of biliary tract cancer
  • History of liver diseases, including hepatitis or cirrhosis
  • History of primary sclerosing cholangitis (a chronic inflammation of the bile ducts)
  • Infection with a parasite called Opisthorchis sinensis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Diagnosis of Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Diagnosis of metastatic cholangiocarcinoma may involve one or more of the following tests:

  • Physical exam – This is to feel for any unusual lumps or bumps in the abdomen.
  • Blood tests – This may be done to measure levels of certain enzymes, such as alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase that can indicate liver damage.
  • Imaging scans – This may involve an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to look for any abnormal growths or tumors in the bile ducts, liver, or other areas.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography – This involves passing a thin, flexible tube through the mouth and pushing it through the stomach and into the small intestine in order to scan for abnormalities.
  • Liver biopsy – This involves taking a tissue sample from the liver and analyzing it for cancer cells.

Treatment of Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Treatment for metastatic cholangiocarcinoma depends on the individual patient and their specific needs. Treatment options may include one or more of the following:

  • Surgery – Surgery may be recommended to remove tumors and affected lymph nodes.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy – This is a type of high-energy X-ray radiation used to shrink tumors.
  • Targeted therapy – This type of therapy involves using drug therapy to target specific molecules in the cancer cells to stop them from growing and divide.
  • Immunotherapy – This is a type of therapy that uses the body's immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.


Metastatic Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of cancer that has spread to other areas of the body from its point of origin. Unfortunately, most cases are not found until the disease has already advanced, making it hard to treat. Although treatments are available, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, it is important to be aware of the risk factors so that you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing this type of cancer.