Bile duct cancer


Next to gallstones, cancer is the most common cause of bile duct obstruction. The majority of bile duct cancers develop in the part of the ducts that are outside the liver and are sometimes referred to as extrahepatic tumors. Most bile duct cancers are adenocarcinomas. This means they develop from the glandular cells of the bile duct.

Our approach

Highlights of bile duct cancer treatment options at Northwell Health include:

  • Minimally invasive surgery, robotic-assisted surgery
  • Novel chemotherapies and targeted therapy
  • Highly precise radiation therapy techniques such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound and other leading-edge diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • Broad range of supportive care services

Multidisciplinary Bile Duct Cancer Treatment

Within the first several days of a patient’s visit, the multidisciplinary team will conduct comprehensive tests and develop a personalized bile duct cancer treatment program.

Each diagnosis is unique, so the team meets regularly to discuss treatment. Team members hold weekly multidisciplinary conferences where expert bile duct cancer physicians share ideas and best practices for delivering the best possible collaborative patient care. Cancer specialists review each treatment phase to constantly improve patient care and ensure treatment milestones are reached

From diagnosis through treatment and follow-up, patients in the capable hands of some of the region's top bile cancer experts every step of the way.


The following are the most common symptoms of bile duct cancer. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine
  • Fever

The symptoms of bile duct cancer may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult a doctor for a diagnosis.


In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for bile duct cancer may include the following:

  • Ultrasound - A diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs of the abdomen, such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys and to assess blood flow through various vessels.
  • Endoscopic or laparoscopic ultrasound - A diagnostic imaging procedure where an ultrasound transducer is placed inside the body, closer to the bile duct. This allows the doctor to get more detailed images.
  • Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) - A diagnostic imaging procedure using a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • Cholangiography - X-ray of the bile ducts using an intravenous dye (contrast).
  • Biopsy - A procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope.
  • Biliary brushing - A type of biopsy where the doctor inserts a small brush with a long, flexible handle through an endoscope or a needle. The brush is then used to scrape cells and small samples of tissue to be examined under a microscope.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) - A type of cholangiography procedure that allows the doctor to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. The procedure combines X-ray and the use of an endoscope, which is a long, flexible, lighted tube. The scope is guided through the mouth and throat, then through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The doctor can examine the inside of these organs and detect any abnormalities. A tube is then passed through the scope and into the bile duct, and a dye is injected that will allow the internal organs to appear on an X-ray

(855) 858-8550

Make an appointment

Call Northwell Health Cancer Institute to make an appointment with one of our experts.

Email the Cancer Institute

Cancer Institute

Northwell Health Cancer Institute offers cutting-edge treatments and cancer care.

Find a Cancer Institute doctor.

Clinical innovations and outcomes

Northwell Health specializes in managing a full spectrum of cancer related conditions.