Bile duct cancer is an uncommon cancer, affecting about 8,000 Americans every year, but when it develops, it’s especially challenging to treat with conventional surgery and chemotherapy. Robert Donoway, MD, FACS, at Atlas Oncology offers one of today’s most innovative treatment options for bile duct cancer, a minimally invasive NanoKnife® procedure that destroys the tumor without harming the surrounding healthy tissues. If you have bile duct cancer and you’re searching for answers, call the office in Hollywood, Florida, or book a consultation online.
Bile duct cancer, also called cholangiocarcinoma, develops in the tubes that carry bile from your liver (where bile is produced), to the gallbladder (where bile is stored), then finally to your small intestine (where it’s used to digest fats).
There are three types of cholangiocarcinoma, depending on the part of the bile duct where the cancer starts:
Bile duct cancer of any type typically occurs in patients older than 50 years, but it can develop at any age.
Symptoms of bile duct cancer occur only when the bile duct becomes blocked. When this happens, the liver can’t release bile and a greenish-yellow chemical found in bile (bilirubin) begins to back up in your bloodstream.
From your bloodstream, bilirubin can settle in different tissues, including your skin and eyes, making them appear yellow. This condition, called jaundice, is the most common sign of bile
Your bile duct cancer may be treated surgically if imaging studies show there’s a good chance that all the cancer can be removed. However, only a small number of bile duct cancers are resectable (operable) when they’re diagnosed.
If the tumor is inoperable, it’s usually because it has spread or it’s in a location where surgery would harm other tissues.
Other treatment options include a liver transplant, which cures the cancer, or a bile duct bypass. The bypass only treats the blockage and relieves symptoms; it doesn’t treat the cancer.
Chemotherapy and radiation may be used with surgery, but they’re seldom used alone. However, you have one more treatment option called NanoKnife irreversible electroporation (IRE).
Dr. Donoway is one of a small number of oncologists who specialize in NanoKinfe IRE. This procedure is minimally invasive because it’s performed using long, thin, needle-like electrodes that are inserted through your skin.
After precisely placing the electrodes around the tumor, Dr. Donoway activates a pulse that creates an electrical field around the tumor. As a result, the tumor cells are destroyed without harming the surrounding tissues.
To learn more about innovative treatment options for bile duct cancer, call Atlas Oncology or book an appointment online.