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Bile Duct Cancer: Symptoms 

What are the symptoms of bile duct cancer?

People with bile duct cancer may have any or all of these symptoms. It depends on where the cancer is growing. Symptoms may include:

  • Jaundice. This is the yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin. It’s caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-brown substance in bile. The liver makes bile. Bile travels from the liver through the bile ducts to the intestine. If the bile ducts are blocked by a tumor or scarring, bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream. Jaundice is the most common symptom of bile duct cancer.

  • Itchy skin. This is caused by high levels of bilirubin in the blood.

  • Dark brown urine. This is caused by rising levels of bilirubin in the blood that comes out in the urine.

  • Pain. Pain may occur in the upper right side of the stomach under the ribs. Early bile duct cancers don’t often cause pain. But constant pain can develop as the bile duct cancer grows and spreads.

Other symptoms can include: 

  • Fever or chills

  • Pale-colored or greasy stools 

  • Bloating

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer.

Online Medical Reviewer: LoCicero, Richard, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2018
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