Bile Duct Cancer: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about how many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year. You will also learn some general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Primary bile duct cancer is uncommon in the United States. Each year, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with bile duct cancer. The number of new cases of bile duct cancer is increasing, mostly due to rising rates of intrahepatic bile duct cancer. The reason for this increase is not known. It may be due to the use of more accurate tests to diagnose this type of cancer. Previously, intrahepatic bile duct cancer may have been thought to be a different type of cancer.

In some parts of the world, a parasite called a liver fluke can infect the bile duct and cause cancer. Liver flukes are very common in Asia and the Middle East, and bile duct cancer is more common in these areas of the world. Also, gallstones and inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract -- such as ulcerative colitis or an associated condition called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) -- increase the risk of bile duct cancer. PSC is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the bile ducts and causes scarring. See the Risk Factors section for more information.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of people live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for people with early-stage extrahepatic cancer is 30%. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 24%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 2%.

For people with early-stage intrahepatic cancer, the 5-year survival rate is 15%. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 6%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 2%.

It is important to remember that statistics on how many people survive this type of cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from data based on thousands of people with this cancer in the United States each year. So, your own risk may be different. Doctors cannot say for sure how long anyone will live with bile duct cancer. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. This means that the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Source: American Cancer Society website.

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by this disease. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.