Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct Cancer) Types

There are several types of cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer. The bile duct is a thin tube that spans from the liver to the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). Its main function is to transport bile, a fluid that aids in the digestion of the fats in foods. Cholangiocarcinoma can develop anywhere within the bile duct system, and the condition is classified based on its site of origin.

The three main types of cholangiocarcinoma are:

  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancers – Develop in the small bile duct branches within the liver
  • Perihilar bile duct cancers (Klatskin tumors) – Form at the hilum, the point where the hepatic ducts join together to exit the liver
  • Distal (extrahepatic) bile duct cancers – Found further down in the bile duct, closer to the duodenum

Cholangiocarcinoma can also be divided by cell types, which are determined based on the appearance of the cancer cells when viewed under a microscope. Most bile duct cancers are adenocarcinomas that start in the glandular cells lining the inside of the duct. Other types of cholangiocarcinoma, such as sarcomas, lymphomas and small cell cancers, are less common.

For all types of cholangiocarcinoma, early detection and appropriate treatment are essential to achieving the best possible outcome. Moffitt Cancer Center has a highly experienced, multispecialty team that offers the latest diagnostic and treatment options for bile duct cancer. We also consistently achieve outcomes that exceed the national average. With a commitment to performing extensive research and a unique bench-to-bedside approach, we allow our patients to start benefiting from promising new treatments quickly so that they can have the best possible quality of life.

If you’d like to learn more about the specific types of cholangiocarcinoma and the latest advances in treatment for each type, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. Referrals are unnecessary at Moffitt.