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Bile Duct Cancer: 7 Scary Signs And Symptoms Every Woman Needs To Know

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Finding out that you or someone you know has a serious illness is terrifying. Often it means weeks, months, or years of doctor visits, hospitalizations, and treatments.

Cancer is one of the scariest illnesses out there — there’s no cure, treatments can be brutal, and it still has high mortality rates. For many people, a cancer diagnosis is one of the most frightening things that can happen in life.

Many of us know about the more common types of cancer, like breast cancer and lung cancer.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t know about some of the less common kinds of cancer, like bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, or throat cancer. It’s very important to keep an eye out for an early symptoms.

Catching symptoms early is often your best chance at recovery.

For example, have you ever heard of bile duct cancer? Most people don’t even know what a bile duct is or where a bile duct is located.

However, bile duct cancer can be very serious — and everyone should know more about it. Read below to find out more about the signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer.

Thumbnail Photos: Instagram / bfowler01 // Public Domain Pictures / Dawn Hudson

What Is A Bile Duct?

what is a bile duct
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

A bile duct is a long tube-like structure that carries bile from the gallbladder and liver to the small intestine.

The Mayo Clinic explains that bile duct cancer, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, is cancer that forms in the slender tubes (bile ducts) that carry the digestive fluid known as bile.

Although bile duct cancer is somewhat uncommon, it’s still important for people to know the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms Of Bile Duct Cancer
Symptom #1: Jaundice

symptom jaundice
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Usually the signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer don’t start to appear until the cancer grows large enough to block the bile ducts, explains the UK’s National Health Service.

One of the most common symptoms of bile duct cancer is jaundice, described as yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

Symptom #2: Persistent Itching

symptom persistent itching
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Another symptom of bile duct cancer is itchy skin.

This isn’t just normal itching, like the kind you have once in a while. This itching will be persistent, and scratching won’t seem to help.

It may feel like there is no source, so relief may be out of reach.

Symptom #3: Clay-Colored Stools

clay-colored stools
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

One of the most obvious symptoms of bile duct cancer is light or white poop.

This poop may also be clay-colored — it definitely won’t be brown like normal stool.

That’s because a dark-brown compound called bilrubin isn’t making it into the stools, instead passing though the urine.

Symptom #4: Dark Brown Urine

dark brown urine
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Everyone knows that urine should be a light yellow color.

Another very visible sign of bile duct cancer is dark brown urine, which indicates that bilrubin is being passed through the urine instead of through the bowels.

Symptom #5: Nausea And Vomiting

nausea vomiting
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Although nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of a variety of illnesses and diseases, it’s also a sign of bile duct cancer.

If you find yourself feeling ill while also experiencing other symptoms on this list, it may be a sign of this type of cancer.

You may experience nausea that coincides with or is triggered by abdominal pain.

Symptom #6: Unintentional Weight Loss

unintentional weight loss
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Because bile duct cancer blocks the bile duct, it may make you lose your appetite.

When you lose your appetite, you won’t eat as much as normal — thus, you’ll unintentionally lose weight.

You also may not digest food properly, meaning that food will simply pass through you without sustaining you.

Symptom #7: Fever And Night Sweats

fever night sweats
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Two of the other common symptoms of bile duct cancer are a high fever, chills, and night sweats.

If you often have chills, shivering, and fever, these may be signs of the cancer.

In adults, a fever over 103 to 104 degrees is high-grade and requires immediate medical attention.

What Do You Do?

what to do
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If you experience the symptoms above, you should tell your doctor. They’ll run tests on your blood, liver, and bile ducts, and they may do a biopsy.

Depending on the results of test, you may get a treatment plan involving chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

If you want to help raise awareness of bile duct cancer, please SHARE this article!