Surgical Treatments for Bile Duct Cancer in Manhattan, NYC

It can be difficult to decide whether or not surgery is the right treatment option for you regarding your bile duct cancer. The best way to make this decision is to gain as much knowledge as possible, and to talk with an oncologist at Mount Sinai’s Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery about all of your potential options.

There are two general types of surgery when it comes to treating bile duct cancer:

  • Potentially curative surgery
  • Palliative surgery

Potentially Curative Surgery

If previous tests have shown that your cancer can be resected (removed completely) then you are a likely candidate for potentially curative surgery. This type of surgery is only performed when it is believed that the cancer has not spread too far throughout the body or beyond the point of resection. Unfortunately, in most cases of bile duct cancer the disease has already made its way to other parts of the body, making this surgery an unsuitable option.

Most often, a potentially curative surgery for bile duct cancer is performed at a large cancer center such as the one at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, but before this surgery is scheduled it is advised to receive multiple opinions. This is because different physicians will have different ideas about whether or not the bile duct cancer is resectable since there is no definitive way to determine just how far it can spread before potentially curative surgery is no longer an option.

The specific type of surgery chosen for resectable cancer of the bile duct will depend on the location of the cancer. Common surgeries include:

Palliative Surgery

If the cancer is too widespread, then Dr. Attiyeh will probably recommend you for a palliative surgery instead of a potentially curative surgery. A palliative surgery is not intended to cure the cancer, but is primarily used to relieve symptoms or treat complications such as bile duct blockages. This helps to extend the life expectancy of the patient and to also improve their quality of life.


Any surgery performed is going to take some considerable recovery time, particularly those that aim to potentially cure the bile duct cancer. These potentially curative surgeries are often quite extensive and require several weeks of time to heal properly.

If the bile duct cancer is advanced and exists throughout the body, it is worth considering the quality of life over the quantity of life when trying to decide if you would prefer to undergo a complicated potentially curative surgery, or if you would rather treat the worst symptoms with a palliative surgery. All of these decisions are ultimately yours to make, but it is always important to carefully weigh each option when making serious choices regarding your health.

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