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Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer Diagnosis

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 9/23/2010

Are you looking for more information on extrahepatic bile duct cancer diagnosis? If so, read on to learn more about diagnosing this cancer.

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    Extrahepatic bile duct cancer diagnosis may involve a variety of tests and procedures so that doctors can ensure they make an accurate diagnosis. The earlier this cancer is diagnosed, the better a patient's chances of getting a positive prognosis in most cases. Once a patient begins experiencing the symptoms of this cancer, they should consult their physician to determine if they should begin the diagnostic process for this cancer.

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    Physical Examination and History

    The patient's diagnostic journey will begin with a basic physical exam. The patient will go through all of the normal tests to determine their overall health. In addition to these, the doctor will be looking for lumps and any other unusual findings. The patient's medical history, lifestyle, and health habits will also be discussed.

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    This procedure is a painless procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to produce pictures of the internal organs and tissues. It can also make echoes which create a picture known as a sonogram. This procedure can help to spot abnormal growths or changes in the body's internal structures.

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    Computed Tomography

    Also referred to as a CT scan, this diagnostic test is performed to obtain detailed pictures of the body's internal structures, at a variety of angles. In some cases, a dye is injected intravenously or administered orally to help create clearer pictures of tissues or organs.

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    Magnetic Resonance Imaging

    Also referred to as a MRI, this test uses radio waves, a magnet, and a computer to create a series of detailed pictures of internal body structures. Dyes can also be used with a MRI, administered either orally or intravenously, to enhance the images obtained.

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    Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

    Also referred to as ERCP, this extrahepatic bile duct cancer diagnosis procedure takes x-rays of the ducts that carry bile. A dye is also used in this procedure. This test is done to look for anything abnormal, as well as any blockages. If blockages are present, many can be unblocked during this procedure. The health care provider performing this test can also obtain tissue samples during this test so they can be checked for signs of cancer using a microscope.

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    A biopsy involves removing tissues or cells to microscopically examine for signs of cancer. Samples can be obtained during an ultrasound or x-ray using a thin needle. When it is done this way, it is referred to as a fine-needle aspiration biopsy. Biopsies are most often done during ERCP or PTC. Tissue samples may also be obtained during surgery.

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    Liver Function Tests

    This procedure involves obtaining a blood sample intravenously. It will then be tested to measure specific substances that the liver releases into the blood. If levels are higher than they should be, it could indicate liver disease that could possibly be caused by this cancer.

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    The Cleveland Clinic. (2010). Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer. Retrieved on September 12, 2010 from The Cleveland Clinic:

    University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. (2010). Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer. Retrieved on September 12, 2010 from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center:

    Jang, J. MD. (2006). Actual Long-Term Outcome of Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer After Surgical Resection. Retrieved on September 12, 2010 from PubMed: