Cholangiocarcinoma aka Biliary Tract Cancer: To treat or not to treat?

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“Biliary tract cancer is a rare malignant tumor. There is limited knowledge about biology and natural history of this disease and considerable uncertainty remains regarding its optimal diagnostic and therapeutic management.

 If you have been diagnosed with bile duct/biliary cancer you must try to wrap your brain around two facts. Fact #1 is that conventional oncology considers biliary tract cancer to be incurable. And fact # 2 is that my cancer is also incurable. I was told that nothing more could be done for me in September of 1997.
 I don’t mean to minimize the seriousness of your cancer diagnosis. I am simply saying that my experience is that there is a great deal more to the treatment of rare cancers than what conventional oncology offers. There are a host of evidence-based but non-conventional therapies (not approved by the FDA). Conveentional oncology and the FDA don’t study therapies such as nutrition, exercise, detoxification, antioxidants, etc. I rely on those therapies to remain in complete remission from my own incurable cancer.
If you would like to learn more about evidence-based biliary tract cancer therapies, both conventional and non-conventional,  please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.
Thanks and hang in there,
David Emerson
  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer 

Recommended Reading:

Nutrition Research and The Cancer Survivor’s Diet

Chemo Combo Improves Survival of Patients with Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer

Stress, Sleeplessness and Cancer


“Cholangiocarcinoma is a medical term denoting a form of cancer that is composed of mutated epithelial cells (or cells showing characteristics of epithelial differentiation) that originate in the bile ducts which drain bile from the liver into the small intestine. Other biliary tract cancers include pancreatic cancer, gallbladder cancer, and cancer of theampulla of Vater.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a relatively rare neoplasm that is classified as an adenocarcinoma (a cancer that forms glands and/or secretes significant amounts of mucins). It has an annual incidence rate of 1–2 cases per 100,000 in the Western world,[1] but rates of cholangiocarcinoma have been rising worldwide over the past several decades.[2]
Prominent signs and symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma include abnormal liver function tests, abdominal pain, jaundice, and weight loss. generalized itching, fever, and changes in color of stool or urine may also occur…
Cholangiocarcinoma is considered to be an incurable and rapidly lethal malignancy unless both the primary tumor and any metastases can be fully resected (removed surgically). No potentially curative treatment yet exists except surgery, but most patients are have advanced stage disease at presentation and are inoperable at the time of diagnosis.
Patients with cholangiocarcinoma are generally managed – though never cured – with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other palliative care measures. These are also used as adjuvant therapies (i.e. post-surgically) in cases where resection has apparently been successful (or nearly so). Some areas of ongoing medical research in cholangiocarcinoma include the use of newer targeted therapies, (such as erlotinib) or photodynamic therapy for treatment, and the techniques to measure the concentration of byproducts of cancer stromal cell formation in the blood for diagnostic purposes.”
“Biliary tract cancer is a rare malignant tumor. There is limited knowledge about biology and natural history of this disease and considerable uncertainty remains regarding its optimal diagnostic and therapeutic management.
The role of adjuvant therapy is object of debate and controversy. Although resection is identified as the most effective and the only potentially curative treatment, there is no consensus on the impact of adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy on the high incidence of disease recurrence and on survival.
This is mainly due to the rarity of this disease and the consequent difficulty in performing randomized trials.
The only two prospectively controlled trials concluded that adjuvant chemotherapy did not improve survival.
Most of the retrospective trials, which had limited sample size and included heterogeneous patients population and non-standardized therapies, suggested a marginal benefit of chemoradiotherapy in reducing locoregional recurrence and an uncertain impact on survival.
Well-designed multi-institutional randomized trials are necessary to clarify the role of adjuvant therapy. Two ongoing phase III trials may provide relevant information.”

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