Bile Duct Cancer
Bile duct cancer starts in the bile ducts, which are thin tubes between the liver and the small intestine. The ducts move bile (a greenish-brown alkaline fluid that aids digestion) from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it helps digest the fats in food.
Depending on where it's located in the bile duct system, cancer is classified into three types:
• Intrahepatic bile duct cancers
• Perihilar (also known as hilar) bile duct cancers
• Distal bile duct cancers
Nearly all bile duct cancers are called cholangiocarcinomas (composed of mutated epithelial cells). Most of these are adenocarcinomas, which are cancers that start in glandular cells. Bile duct adenocarcinomas develop from the mucous gland cells that line the inside of the duct.
Bile duct cancer can affect your body in many ways. As part of the digestive system, bile ducts help digest food properly. If cancer spreads to the liver, the chemical balance of the body will be disturbed.
Causes & Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer
Researchers do not know the exact cause of most bile duct cancers. However, there seems to be a link between these cancers and things that irritate and inflame the bile ducts — bile duct stones, choledochal cysts, parasites, cirrhosis of the liver, or something else.
Bile duct cancer does not usually cause signs or symptoms until later in the course of the disease, but sometimes symptoms can appear sooner and lead to an early diagnosis. Bile duct cancer symptoms include:
• Light-colored / greasy stools
• Dark urine
• Abdominal pain
• Loss of appetite / weight loss
• Nausea and vomiting
Who Gets Bile Duct Cancer
The average age of people diagnosed with cancer of the intrahepatic bile ducts (within or originating in the liver) is 70, and for cancer of the extrahepatic bile ducts (situated or originating outside the liver), it is 72.
Bile duct cancer is more common in men (13 cases per 100,000 people) than women (4.4), and among Asian / Pacific Islander (20.8 for men), Hispanic (19.5) and American Indian / Alaska Native (18.5) populations.
Prognosis if You Have Bile Duct Cancer
For treatment purposes, doctors often use a simpler system based on whether or not cancer can likely be removed (resected) with surgery:
• Resectable cancers are those that doctors believe can be removed completely by surgery.
• Unresectable cancers have spread too far or are in too difficult a place to be removed entirely by surgery.
Generally speaking, most Stage 0, I, and II cancers and possibly some Stage III cancers are resectable. Most Stage III and IV tumors are unresectable.
However, this also depends on other factors, such as the size and location of cancer and whether a person is healthy enough for surgery.
The 5-year relative survival rate for intrahepatic bile duct cancer:
• Stage I – 15 percent
• Stage II and III – 6 percent
• Stage IV – 2 percent
The 5-year relative survival rate for extrahepatic bile duct cancer:
• Stage I – 30 percent
• Stage II and III – 24 percent
• Stage IV – 2 percent
Conventional medicine’s main types of treatment for bile duct cancer include:
• Radiation therapy
• Palliative therapy
Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK
Alternative Cancer Treatments: Bile Duct Cancer
Alternative cancer treatments frequently recommended for bile duct cancer are liver flushes, coffee enemas, dietary protocols, electromedicine, supplements, and immune support.
How to Prevent Bile Duct Cancer
There is no known way to prevent most bile duct cancers. Many of the known risk factors for bile duct cancers, such as age, ethnicity, and bile duct abnormalities, are beyond our control.
There are lifestyle decisions you can make to lower the risk of developing bile duct cancers, including maintaining a healthy weight by being active and eating a healthy diet: vegetables; fruits; whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals; fish; poultry; and beans. Also, you should limit processed meat and red meat.
The immune system contains many different types of “cells,” however, only a handful of these white blood cells actually kill cancer cells. It should be the intent of a person with cancer to focus on treatments that quickly increase the count of the cancer-killing white blood cells.
Immune System Health
A healthy immune system remains your body's best defense. Not only is a weak immune system a major reason patients have cancer — and cancer itself can further weaken the immune system.
Beta glucans may help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. In addition, beta glucans may stimulate white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses and release chemicals to destroy it.
Beta Glucan has been approved in Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan as an immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer. In fact, helping with cancer is just the beginning with Beta Glucan. There are many studies showing the product can protect against infections, lower your cholesterol, lower blood sugar, reduce stress, increase your antibody production, heal wounds, help radiation burns, overcome mercury-induced immunosuppression (like Thimerosal, used as a preservative in vaccines), help with diabetes, and even naturally prevent metastasisThe spread of cancer cells from the place where they first formed to another part of the body. In metastasis, cancer cells break away from the original (primary) tumor, travel through the blood or lymph system, and form a new tumor in other organs or tissues of the body. The new, metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are breast cancer cells, not lung cancer cells. (or the spreading of your cancer).
Harvard Medical School suggests following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy:
• Don't smoke.
• Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fatA type of fat with certain chemical properties that is usually solid at room temperature. Most saturated fats come from animal food products, but some plant oils, such as palm and coconut oil, also contain high levels. Eating saturated fat increases the level of cholesterol in the blood and the risk of heart disease..
• Exercise regularly.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Control your blood pressure.
• If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
• Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
More Information: Building the Immune System
Your diet plays a role in a healthy immune system. The top vitamins your immune system needs to perform include:
• Vitamin C — helps to repair and regenerate tissues and aids in the absorption of iron
• Vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection
• Vitamin B6 — supports adrenal function and is necessary for key metabolic processes
• Vitamin A — aids immune function and helps provide a barrier against infections
• Vitamin D — modulates cell growth, promotes neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation
• Folate — key in development of red blood cells (a lack of Folate can make the body susceptible to cancer)
• Iron — helps your body carry oxygen to cells
• Selenium — slows the body's overactive responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer
• Zinc — slows the immune response and control inflammation in your body