ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of people who are diagnosed with bile duct cancer each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.
Primary bile duct cancer is uncommon in the United States. Each year, an estimated 8,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with bile duct cancer. The average age people are diagnosed with intrahepatic bile duct cancer is 70. For extrahepatic bile duct cancer, the average age at diagnosis is 72.
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 bile duct cancer is more common in this part 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 and Prevention 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 bile duct 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 bile duct 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 the survival rates for people with bile duct cancer are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of people with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival statistics every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.
Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society website (January 2019).
The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by bile duct cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.