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Bile duct cancer

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Follow-up after treatment for extrahepatic bile duct cancer

Extrahepatic bile duct cancer behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. People with extrahepatic bile duct cancer should talk to their doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists) and the family doctor.

After treatment has ended, new symptoms and symptoms that don't go away should be reported to the doctor without waiting for the next scheduled appointment. These may include:

  • yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • itching
  • pain or an increase in pain, especially in the abdomen

Schedule

Because extrahepatic bile duct cancer is so rare, there are no standard guidelines for follow-up care. Follow-up after treatment is tailored to the individual. Regular follow-up is done if the person had surgery. Extrahepatic bile duct cancer often recurs after surgery.

Procedures

During a follow-up visit, the doctor usually asks questions about the side effects of treatment, how the person is coping and if the person has any symptoms. The doctor may do a complete physical examination.

Tests may be ordered as part of follow-up or if the doctor suspects the cancer has come back (has recurred).

  • Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, CT scan or MRI, may be done if the person has new symptoms.
  • Blood tests may also be done if the person has symptoms.

If a recurrence is found during follow-up, the oncology team will assess the person with cancer to determine the best treatment options.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about follow-up after treatment.

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