Canadian Cancer Society logo

Bile duct cancer

You are here: 

Signs and symptoms of extrahepatic bile duct cancer

A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness). Extrahepatic bile duct cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because the bile ducts are deep inside the abdomen. Most symptoms appear in the later stages of the disease, once the tumour has grown into surrounding tissues and organs.

The signs and symptoms of extrahepatic bile duct cancer can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.

Signs and symptoms of extrahepatic bile duct cancer are:

  • jaundicejaundiceA condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.
    • Jaundice is the most common sign of extrahepatic bile duct cancer.
    • Jaundice occurs when the cancer blocks the bile duct and stops the flow of bile. Bile then builds up in the blood and tissues of the body (obstructive jaundice).
    • Jaundice makes the skin and whites of the eyes yellow. It can also cause the urine to appear dark yellow and stools to be clay-coloured.
  • itching
    • Jaundice can cause itchiness.
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • fever
  • abdominal pain
    • Early extrahepatic bile duct cancer usually doesn't cause pain. Pain occurs when the cancer spreads or is advanced.
  • nausea and vomiting


Sandra LeBlanc It has been easy to support the Canadian Cancer Society. Each one of us has been personally touched in some manner by cancer.

Read Sandra's story

Volunteers provide comfort and kindness

Illustration of volunteers

Thousands of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers work in regional cancer centres, lodges and community hospitals to support people receiving treatment.

Learn more