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"American Cancer Society: Diagnosis of Bile Duct Cancer" icon

American Cancer Society: Diagnosis of Bile Duct Cancer

The bile duct is a thin tube, about 4 to 5 inches long, that reaches from the liver to the small intestine. The major function of the bile duct is to transport a fluid called bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where it helps digest the fats in foods. Most bile duct cancers are not found until patients go to a doctor because they have symptoms. When bile duct cancer does cause symptoms, it is usually because the bile duct is blocked. This webpage lists the most common symptoms of bile duct cancer that lead to a diagnosis, as well as how family history evaluation, physical exams, blood tests, imaging tests, and biopsy are tools used for diagnosis.
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