Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer: From Itchy, Cracked Hands to Loss of Appetite

Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that develops in the tubes that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.

Between 25 and 30 percent of people with cancer survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis, while 15 percent survive for 5 years or more, according to Cancer Research UK.

Around 1,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year, says the NHS.

Bile duct cancer usually does not cause signs or symptoms until later in the course of the disease, but sometimes symptoms can appear earlier and lead to an early diagnosis. If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment may work best.

The Independent recently reported on the case of Maria Barry, a mother of three living in northwest London, who was diagnosed with cancer after she began to suffer from itchy and cracked hands during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.

The 58-year-old initially thought it was a reaction to a new cleaning product she was using, but in April 2022 she found out she had bile duct cancer. Without treatment, she now only has three to six months to live.

Symptoms

According to the NHS website, symptoms of bile duct cancer can include:

  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee, and paler poop than normal
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss without trying
  • generally feeling bad
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • A high temperature, or you feel hot or chilly

Other symptoms can affect your stomach, such as:

  • feel or be sick
  • pain in your stomach

The NHS says that bile duct cancer may not show any symptoms or may be difficult to detect.

When bile duct cancer causes symptoms, it’s usually because a bile duct is blocked. Symptoms tend to depend on whether the cancer is in ducts inside the liver (intrahepatic) or in ducts outside the liver (extrahepatic).

Treatment

This depends on where the cancer is, how big it is, whether it has spread, and your overall health. The main treatments for bile duct cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.

Most people with cancer are in an advanced stage by the time they are diagnosed. This means that the cancer has spread outside the bile ducts. Treatment for advanced bile duct cancer is usually chemotherapy.

Bile duct cancer can block the bile ducts and cause symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Your doctor usually places a tube called a stent to relieve the blockage and allow bile to flow back into your intestines.

Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that develops in the tubes that connect the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.

Between 25 and 30 percent of people with cancer survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis, while 15 percent survive for 5 years or more, according to Cancer Research UK.

Around 1,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year, says the NHS.

Bile duct cancer usually does not cause signs or symptoms until later in the course of the disease, but sometimes symptoms can appear earlier and lead to an early diagnosis. If the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment may work best.

The Independent recently reported on the case of Maria Barry, a mother of three living in northwest London, who was diagnosed with cancer after she began to suffer from itchy and cracked hands during the first Covid lockdown in March 2020.

The 58-year-old initially thought it was a reaction to a new cleaning product she was using, but in April 2022 she found out she had bile duct cancer. Without treatment, she now only has three to six months to live.

Symptoms

According to the NHS website, symptoms of bile duct cancer can include:

  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee, and paler poop than normal
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss without trying
  • generally feeling bad
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy
  • A high temperature, or you feel hot or chilly

Other symptoms can affect your stomach, such as:

  • feel or be sick
  • pain in your stomach

The NHS says that bile duct cancer may not have any symptoms or may be difficult to detect.

When bile duct cancer causes symptoms, it’s usually because a bile duct is blocked. Symptoms tend to depend on whether the cancer is in ducts inside the liver (intrahepatic) or in ducts outside the liver (extrahepatic).

Treatment

This depends on where the cancer is, how big it is, whether it has spread, and your overall health. The main treatments for bile duct cancer are surgery and chemotherapy.

Most people with cancer are in an advanced stage by the time they are diagnosed. This means that the cancer has spread outside the bile ducts. Treatment for advanced bile duct cancer is usually chemotherapy.

Bile duct cancer can block the bile ducts and cause symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Your doctor usually places a tube called a stent to relieve the blockage and allow bile to flow back into your intestines.