Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma) Treatment

Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma) Treatment

Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon, William Jarnagin, performing a surgery with two other male colleagues.

Surgeon William Jarnagin is part of a team of experts who collaborate to provide the best treatment for people with bile duct cancer.

Surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation, or a combination of these may be used to treat bile duct cancer. Depending on the stage of the disease, your MSK care team will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you.


Surgery is the preferred treatment for bile duct cancer and offers the best chance for a cure. The most effective approach for tumors that have not spread is surgery to remove the bile duct and the nearby lymph nodes. A more extensive surgery may be necessary if the cancer has spread.

Learn more about bile duct cancer surgery.

Minimally Invasive Symptom Relief for Bile Duct Cancer

Some people with bile duct cancer are unable to have surgery because the tumor has spread too far or is in too difficult a place to be removed. The tumor may be blocking bile from draining out of the bile duct, causing discomfort. Our doctors can use minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to remove blockages and relieve symptoms.

Learn more about minimally invasive procedures for bile duct cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Chemotherapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Chemotherapy is a drug or combination of drugs that kills cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Research has shown that several chemotherapy approaches can shrink bile duct tumors and possibly improve survival.

Learn more about chemotherapy for bile duct cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Radiation Therapy for Bile Duct Cancer

Radiation may be used for people with bile duct tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. The radiation may be given alone or in combination with chemotherapy and other treatments.

Learn more about radiation therapy for bile duct cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Why should I choose Memorial Sloan Kettering for bile duct cancer treatment?

At MSK, we offer:

  • A multidisciplinary team of experts who are highly experienced in the treatment of bile duct cancer. This includes world-class specialists in surgery, chemotherapy, radiology, pathology, nursing, and social work. Multidisciplinary input from several experts is an essential part of care plans at MSK since many people with bile duct cancer will receive more than one type of treatment.
  • Close collaboration among these experts. Members of our bile duct cancer team meet regularly to discuss the treatment of the people we care for. We bring a variety of clinical perspectives to develop individualized care plans for each patient.
  • Highly skilled surgeons who have extensive experience in removing bile duct tumors. We routinely offer surgical treatment to people with tumors that are considered inoperable at other hospitals.
  • Medical oncologists with vast experience in giving chemotherapy to people with bile duct cancer. We carefully tailor treatments to be as effective as possible while minimizing side effects.
  • Radiation oncologists who use advanced techniques to treat bile duct tumors that cannot be removed by surgery. This includes delivering radiation guided by highly sophisticated imaging approaches that are not available at most hospitals.
  • Access to clinical trials investigating new and improved treatments for bile duct cancer. Sometimes these studies offer therapies years before they are available anywhere else.
  • A comprehensive program to support the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people with bile duct cancer during and after treatment. This includes nurses who are trained specifically to care for people with bile duct cancer during outpatient chemotherapy or after surgery.
  • Flexibility in how and where to receive treatment. Our specialists are conveniently located in Manhattan and at our regional outpatient locations in New Jersey, on Long Island, and in Westchester County. This provides our patients with the same outstanding care from MSK doctors but closer to home. See all MSK locations.

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