Because bile ducts are deep within the body, biliary cancers signs and symptoms typically aren’t visible until an advanced stage.
The most common biliary cancer symptoms include:
- Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice is caused by high levels of bilirubin, a yellow pigment resulting from the breakdown of red blood cells. It is usually processed by the liver and passes through the bile ducts before being excreted. Excess bilirubin can be a sign of liver or bile duct malfunction.
- Itching: Itchy skin can be caused when excess levels of bilirubin reach the skin.
- Lack of appetite or unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and/or fever: These symptoms are often caused by abnormal liver function, infection caused by the blockage of bile ducts, or an increase in bilirubin.
- Light-colored stools with dark colored urine: Bile gives stool its characteristic brown color. If there is a problem with the bile ducts and bile can’t get into the small intestine, stool may become pale.
- Enlarged abdominal mass: If a bile duct tumor grows and interferes with nearby organs, it can cause a visible mass.
- Abdominal pain and/or bloating can occur in advanced stages of biliary cancer.
Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have biliary cancer. However, it is crucial to discuss these conditions with a doctor so the disease can be diagnosed as early as possible.
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