Pancreatic Cancer/Bile Duct Cancer

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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas — an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach. Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produces hormones that help manage your blood sugar.

Several types of growths can occur in the pancreas, including cancerous and noncancerous tumors. The most common type of cancer that forms in the pancreas begins in the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma).

Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it's most curable. This is because it often doesn't cause symptoms until after it has spread to other organs.

Pancreatic cancer treatment options are chosen based on the extent of the cancer. Options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of these.

Bile Duct Cancer

Bile duct cancer arises from the cells that line the bile ducts, the drainage system for bile that is produced by the liver. Bile ducts collect this bile, draining it into the gallbladder and finally into the small intestine where it aids in the digestion process. Bile duct cancer is also called cholangiocarcinoma.

Bile duct cancer is a rare form of cancer, with approximately 2,500 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. There are three general locations where this type of cancer may arise within the bile drainage system:

Within the liver (intrahepatic) affecting the bile ducts located within the liver Just outside of the liver (extrahepatic or perihilar) located at the notch of the liver where the bile ducts exit Far outside of the liver (distal extrahepatic) near where the bile ducts enter the intestine (called the ampulla of Vater) Bile duct cancers are most commonly found just outside of the liver in the perihilar area and least commonly found within the liver.