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What Are the Symptoms of Bile Duct Cancer?

People with bile duct cancer may have any or all of these symptoms depending on the location and extent of the bile duct cancer.

  • Jaundice, which is caused by rising levels of bilirubin. This is a by-product in bile produced when red blood cells break down. If the bile ducts are blocked by a tumor or scarring, bilirubin backs up into the blood, which makes the eyes and skin turn yellow. Jaundice is the most common symptom of bile duct cancer.

  • Pain in the upper right side of the stomach area. Early bile duct cancers do not usually cause pain, but constant pain in the stomach area can develop as the bile duct cancer grows and spreads.

  • Itchy skin, called pruritus. This is caused by bilirubin getting into the skin.

  • Dark brown urine

  • Fever or chills

  • Light, clay-colored stools 

  • Bloating, loss of appetite, and weight loss

It is important to remember that all these symptoms can be caused by many other medical problems. They may or may not mean that bile duct cancer is present. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible to find out why you have them.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Welch, Annette, MNS, OCN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/30/2013
© 2013 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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