There is no one way to treat bile duct cancer.
With varying tumor sizes, several different possible locations both inside and outside of the liver, and the option for surgery depending on your individual diagnosis, bile duct cancer demands a complete health evaluation before determining a set treatment plan.
Though the preferred method for treating bile duct cancer is via surgery, there are several factors that will help your Baltimore bile duct cancer surgeon decide if such a complex operation is the right treatment path for you.
Unfortunately, not everyone is qualified for surgery. This is what makes bile duct cancer so cruel.
Surgical removal of the cancer often provides the only realistic chance for a cure. For those who are unable to undergo such a major operation, this leaves several half-serving treatment options and the possibility of recurrence.
Today we will look at how the extent of your bile duct cancer plays a role in whether you are a proper candidate for surgical removal of the tumors.
Is Your Bile Duct Cancer Surgically Removable?
After evaluating your medical history, the extent of your bile duct cancer, and your current health status, your bile duct surgeon will divide your cancer diagnosis into one of two categories:
- Resectable bile duct cancer. This bile duct cancer is thought to be surgically removable based on imaging tests and other tests.
- Unresectable bile duct cancer. This bile duct cancer is thought to have spread too far or is in a difficult place and cannot be removed completely via surgery.
Unfortunately, many bile duct cancers are found in their late stages. This means that oftentimes bile duct cancer has metastasized too much to be surgically removed. This leaves patients with a limited amount of palliative, rather than curative, treatment options.
Resectable Bile Duct Cancer
Resectable bile duct cancer, that is, the type of cancers that can be surgically removed entirely, are typically stage 0, I, or II cancers. However, whether or not a bile duct surgeon can remove your cancer will also largely depend on the cancer’s location and your overall health.
Before deciding whether your bile duct cancer is resectable, it is likely your Baltimore surgeon will conduct several imaging tests on your to pinpoint the cancer’s exact location in your body. With these tests, your bile duct surgeon will be able to determine whether your cancer has spread to any surrounding organs. If it has, and the areas cause the cancer to be considered unresectable, you will be presented with treatment options other than surgery.
If your bile duct cancer is resectable, there are two surgical options available:
- Curative surgery. This is when imaging tests reveal that your bile duct cancer is likely to be completely removed during surgery. This offers the best chance for a full recovery. This is going to be a very complex surgery and requires the expertise of a surgeon who knows how to handle the intricacies of the bile duct system.
- Palliative Surgery. This type of surgery is not performed with the intention of curing you from your bile duct cancer. However, if you are a candidate for palliative surgery, this means that there is the possibility your surgeon may be able to relieve you of some of the major complications the tumors are causing you in your everyday life. This is done by placing stent or catheter within the bile duct blocked by tumors. This keeps the duct open and may relieve things such as pain and jaundice.
In the end, it is important that you fully discuss your treatment plan with your Baltimore bile duct surgeon, especially if surgery is a consideration. The truth is, not all surgeons agree that bile duct cancer can be fully removed via surgery. This is something that should be carefully weighed because surgery is a major treatment decision.
In addition, anyone that claims to have experience in bile duct surgeries should have proof of their work.
Only specialized physicians trained in this type of surgery have a chance at removing all, if not most of your bile duct cancer. Conduct thorough research when making a decision in regards to your bile duct cancer surgeon.
Unresectable Bile Duct Cancer
Bile duct cancers that are at stages IV and V are typically considered unresectable, meaning they cannot be fully removed via surgery. In addition, if your health is so poor that surgery is not a viable option for you, your bile duct cancer will then be considered unresectable.
Sometimes, if your bile duct cancer is large, but your bile duct physician feels it can be made smaller through chemotherapy and/or radiation, your treatment plan will include those options. Then after the tumors have decreased in size, your surgeon may re-evaluate your candidacy for surgery.
On the other hand, sometimes your bile duct cancer surgeon may feel you are a perfect candidate for surgery, but once the surgery begins, notices that the cancer has spread farther than the imaging tests initially revealed. Your cancer then becomes unresectable and other treatment options must be considered after surgery.
If this is the case, during the operation your Baltimore surgeon may attempt a biliary bypass. With this procedure, your surgeon will create a bypass around the tumor-blocked bile duct by connecting part of the duct before the blockage to a part of the duct that lies past the blockage in an effort to keep the duct open. More so, your bile duct surgeon may even connect the biliary duct directly to your small intestine in an effort to bypass the blocked portion of the duct completely.
In the end, if your tumors are deemed unresectable, the individualized treatment approach your physician will take will be that of relief from the symptoms the cancer is causing. This way you can maintain the best quality of life possible while having bile duct cancer.
The Emotional Toll of Bile Duct Cancer
Since having bile duct cancer is such a serious diagnosis, many people struggle physically and emotionally.
Even when the cancer is considered resectable, there is no guarantee the cancer will not return. More so, there is no guarantee the cancer will be fully removed during the surgery. All of this leaves a deep emotional mark on those battling bile duct cancer.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with bile duct cancer and are having a difficult time coping, it is important you reach out to your bile duct surgeon to help direct you to the proper resources to help.
Support can come in the form of friends, family, cancer groups, religious or spiritual groups, online support communities, and even therapists that specialize in cancer patient therapy.
Finding the right doctor to care for you after a bile duct cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming and scary ordeal.
However, if you live in the Baltimore area and are looking for an experienced bile duct surgeon, look no further than Dr. Fraiman and his interdisciplinary team of specialists. Striving to fully examine all of his patients and devise individualized treatment plans that will combat bile duct cancer in the most aggressive way possible, Dr. Fraiman has what it takes to get the job done.
Contact Dr. Fraiman today and start your journey towards a healthier life. His 20 years of experience, patient-oriented approach to treatment, and knowledge about bile duct cancer will have you in good hands, guaranteed.