Sharon Jones, a soul singer for the group the Dap-Kings has recently made it known that she was diagnosed with bile duct cancer at age 57. She says they caught it early and since it is only a stage one tumor, it is something they can operate on and is curable. This is a rare cancer that only affects 2,000-3,000 people, each year in the US, according to the National Cancer Society.
This type of cancer occurs when a tumor grows inside the bile duct which is either inside or outside of the liver. This duct brings bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine. Chemical exposure, liver damage, age, and bile duct inflammation are all risk factors for developing this rare type of cancer. It is most common among those over 50. The symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), excessive itchiness, and white colored stool.
There are three different types of bile duct cancers:
– Perihilar bile duct cancer – Also known as Klatskin tumors, this is the most common form of bile duct cancer.
– Intrahepatic bile duct cancer – This type accounts for roughly one out of every ten cases.
– Distal bile duct cancer – Occurs on the closer part of the bile duct to the liver / small intestine.
The treatment for these cancers varies depending on which one you have. Tumors that are at the top of the duct can often be removed by surgery where they take out the tumor and sometimes part of the liver as well. Tumors towards the bottom of the duct may be treated with a Whipple procedure which is where part of the duodenum, gallbladder, and bile duct are removed. Chemo and radiation therapy are also used.