Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What is Cholangiocarcinoma?

Cholangiocarcinoma (often referred to as bile duct cancer) is a cancerous growth in one of the ducts that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine. Cholangiocarcinoma is rare. It occurs in approximately 2 out of 100,000 people, but rates of cholangiocarcinoma have been rising worldwide over the past several decades. Cancerous tumors of the bile ducts are usually slow-growing and do not spread quickly. However, many of these tumors are already advanced by the time they are found. A cholangiocarcinoma may start anywhere along the bile ducts. These tumors block off the bile ducts and do not allow bile to flow from the liver to the intestine. This is why one of the first symptoms noticed is jaundice. This cancer affects both men and women and most patients are older than 65(

Prominent symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma include abnormal liver function tests, abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss, and sometimes generalized itching, fever, or changes in stool or urine color. The disease is diagnosed through a combination of blood tests, imaging, endoscopy, and sometimes surgical exploration. Known risk factors for cholangiocarcinoma include primary sclerosing cholangitis (an inflammatory disease of the bile ducts), and congenital liver malformations.

Cholangiocarcinoma is considered to be an incurable and rapidly lethal disease unless all of its tumors can be fully resected (cut out surgically). There is no potentially curative treatment except surgery, but unfortunately most patients have advanced and inoperable disease at the time of diagnosis.

For more information, please go to the following links:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Be an Active Cancer Patient!

According to Lauran Neergaard's article, Get moving: Cancer survivors urged to exercise, there is growing evidence that physical activity improves quality of life and eases some cancer-related fatigue. More, it can help fend off a serious decline in physical function that can last long after therapy is finished.

Cancer patients usually get less active as symptoms or treatmetns make them feel lousy. Some therapies can weaken muscles, bones and even the heart. Not too long ago, doctors advised cancer patients to take it easy. Not anymore, be as active as you are able, says Dr. Kathryn Schmitz. To read  article, click here to read full article.

Here are a few simple physical activities to implement in your day:
  •  Walk around the neighborhood. Go the extra mile: Ask your neighbors if you can pick up their newspapers from their front yard and drop it off on their doorstep. 
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go the extra mile: On the first and last step of each fight of stairs, add 10 calf raises on each leg and together. 
  • Park at far as possible from your destination and walk. Go the extra mile: If you are at a grocery store, on your way in or out, gather five of the closest shopping carts and return them.
Remember that you are dealing with the fatigue of cancer so listen to your body. Don't overwork yourself. Seek help from professional trainers and/or consult with your doctors a guideline of physical activity.

Cathy Sorenson and her Journey through Cholangiocarcinoma

Cathy Sorenson was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma in September of 2010 and still is fighting this devastating cancer today. Cathy suffers from a condition called sclerosing cholangitis. Sclerosing cholangitis refers to swelling (inflammation), scarring and destruction of the bile ducts inside and outside the liver. The doctor explained that sclerosing cholangitis is a condition that is common in individuals who have had crohn’s disease and/or ulcerative colitis, which Cathy has.

Sclerosing cholangitis can lead to the development of cancerous cells which becomes Cholangiocarcinoma. Specifically, mom has masses in her gall bladder and a mass in the liver. There is also substantially disruption of the bile ducts.

Because of the location of the masses in the gall bladder, surgery was not an option at this time due to the high probability of cancer spreading in other parts of the body as a result of the surgery. The Doctor recommended a course of chemotherapy, which Cathy is currently experiencing.

Cathy’s chemotherapy consist of the drug’s cisplaten and gemcitabine. These drugs will be given to mom by IV once a week for two out of every three weeks. The cisplaten will take approximately 2 hours to be given and the gemcitabine will take another hour. This course of chemotherapy will not result in hair loss.

The hope is that the chemotherapy will reduce the size of the masses and help Cathy avoid the negative side effects of the cancer. She has been responding very well to Chemotherapy and is optimistic on what is to come.

If you would like to learn more and follow Cathy's experiences please go to the following:

Cholangiocarcinoma and Statistics

       One of the main purposes of this blog is to educate people and create awareness.  With that being said, after doing some research I came across some important information about Cholangiocarcinoma.  One of the main things that I kept popping up in the readings about this bile duct cancer was that it’s a very rare disease especially in the United States and the people that are diagnosed with this cancer don’t know that they have until it’s already spread into some major organs.  Since this is the case physicians breakdown the prognosis of this cancer into stages so they know which treatment would be best for the patient.

The above picture is a visual of the organs and their labels that are first affected by Cholangiocarcinomas.

The stages of this cancer are as follows:
Stage 0: Stage 0 Cholangiocarcinomas only involve the lining of the bile ducts and have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage I: Cholangiocarcinomas which invade the bile duct or have penetrated through the bile duct, but have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage II: The tumor has invaded into adjacent organs, such as the liver, gallbladder or pancreas or if the tumor has invaded a brand of the portal vein or hepatic (liver) artery.  People who have disease which involve lymph nodes near the bile ducts are considered to have Stage II disease.

Stage III:  Tumor which has invaded adjacent organs, such as the colon, stomach, duodenum or abdominal wall.  

Stage IV:  Tumor has spread to other distant organs. 

More information about this can be found on this 

It is thought that one common cause of cholangiocarcinoma is primary scalloping cholangitis or PSC.  To describe further primary scalloping cholangitis is an inflammatory condition thought to be related to abnormalities in the immune system which can cause blockages within bile ducts that are in the liver.  
Another common cause of cholangiocarcinoma includes genetic disorders that can be associated with other cancers like colon cancer, which causes cysts that develop in the liver. Scarring of the liver known as cirrhosis can also be a huge risk factor for cholandiocarcinoma. Recently found information stated that the association of cirrhosis causing cholandgiocarcinoma is rising in the United States.  

More information about this can be found on this 

Final Note: Each year there is about 2500 cases of Cholangiocarcinomas.  When compared to other similar diseases like gallbladder cancer there is 5000 cases and there are 15000 cases of hepatocellular cancer.  On average there is 1 Cholangiocarcinoma case per 100,000 persons per year.
As stated in the last post knowledge is power! And it’s so important to know your body and stay healthy in whatever way you can.  A lot of people who are diagnosed with this cancer have a rare survival rate because they didn’t know something was wrong until the cancer was already in stage III and the tumor was spreading into other major organs.  Things that could have helped them was a healthier life style, the knowledge of their body and diseases that run in their families and lastly receiving yearly check ups with their doctors.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cholangiocarcinoma Challenge of the Day: Spend 20 minutes researching

Today's challenge is to spend 20 minutes of your day researching Cholangiocarcinoma. Find out everything you need to know about your cancer in order to make treatment decisions. Ask your doctor to tell you the type and stage of your cancer, as well as your treatment options and their side effects. The more you know, the more confident you'll be when it comes to making decisions about your own care.

- Knowledge is Power!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation

         Throughout this blog our group has discussed one cancer in particular, which is known as Cholangiocarcinoma (Bile Duct) Cancer.  When doing some research and becoming more familiar with this rare cancer we discovered an organization based out of Salt Lake City.  They are called The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and their website is   The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is ran by a community of volunteers that have been affected in one way or another by this deadly cancer.  Their purpose as it reads on their website, 

         “Our mission is to find a cure and improve the quality of life for those affected by bile duct cancer. As our reach continues to expand, we examine ways to improve diagnosis and early detection and advance therapies for prolonging life.”
         Founded in 2006 this non-profit organization focuses on 4 main concepts: Collaboration, Understanding, Research, and Education, which are also known as CURE.  Within these 4 key elements they give people the ability to hope, find faith, have security and feel loved, which in the terms of cancer is the best medicine someone can receive.  Within The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation website people who are suffering from the cancer, their family members, their friends, and individuals who are just looking to become more familiar with what this cancer is about can go and participate in discussion boards, events,  ask a doctor questions, learn about the different stages that people go through while having this cancer, and obtain information about different treatments that people can use to help better their chances of a longer life with Cholangiocarcinoma. 

         Having the opportunity to better understand this cancer and the people that have been affected you automatically feel a sense of bond and this undeniable, heart warming pride that people have.  It’s like being apart of a close nit family that regardless of what happens they will always be there for one another and never give up on each other and The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is the perfect example of this.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cholangiocarcinoma Challenge of the Day

Today's challenge is to write in your journal or notebook how you will fight your cancer today! 
Here are a few examples: 
Today I will not let my cancer keep me indoors all day. 
Today I will taste something new. 
Today I will try a new relaxation technique, like meditation

Don't let cancer stop you from living a fulfilling life.

-Carpe Diem!