Bile Duct Cancer: Symptoms 

What are the symptoms of bile duct cancer?

People with bile duct cancer may have any or all of these symptoms. It depends on where the cancer is growing. Symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice. This is the yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin. It’s caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-brown substance in bile. The liver makes bile. Bile travels from the liver through the bile ducts the intestine. Bile digests or breaks down fats from food in the intestine. If the bile ducts are blocked by a tumor or scarring, bile backs up. Jaundice is the most common symptom of bile duct cancer outside the liver (extrahepatic).

  • Pain. Pain may occur in the upper right side of the stomach area. Early bile duct cancers do not usually cause pain, but constant pain in the stomach area can develop as the bile duct cancer grows and spreads.

  • Itchy skin. This is known as pruritus. This is caused by bilirubin getting into the skin.

  • Dark brown urine. This is caused by rising levels of bilirubin in the blood that comes out in the urine.

Other symptoms can include: 

  • Fever or chills

  • Pale-colored stools 

  • Bloating

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer.