Bile duct cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts in the bile duct. There are very few things scarier than being told you have cancer. You may feel like you’re in shock. You may not even want to believe what the doctor has told you. And there are probably so many questions you want to ask but think you can’t because you don’t know where to start.
First of all, it’s OK to be overwhelmed. And it’s OK to feel afraid. But you shouldn’t let those feelings stop you from finding out as much as you can about your cancer and about the options you have. The more you know, the less helpless and afraid you will feel. And the more you know, the better you will be able to work with your health care team to make the best choices for your treatment.
To recommend the best treatment for you, your health care team needs to know as much as it can about you and your cancer. The biopsy that showed you have cancer gives your doctor other facts. For instance, it can help your doctor predict how fast the cancer may grow. It’s likely you’ll need other tests to learn about how far the cancer has progressed, called the stage of the cancer.
You may need to work with more than one doctor or other health care professional. Your health care team will include one or more doctors who specialize in cancer. Doctors who specialize in dealing with bile duct cancer may include gastroenterologists, gastrointestinal surgeons, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists. You will also have an oncology nurse. This team will answer any questions you may have. They’ll also help you through each of the steps you’ll take before, during, and after treatment. Your team will let you know what tests are being done and their results. They’ll guide you in making treatment decisions.
Treatment for bile duct cancer usually begins a few weeks after a diagnosis. This gives you time to get all the details your doctor needs by having the appropriate tests. You also have time to talk with your doctor about treatment choices, get a second opinion, decide about treatment, and prepare yourself and your loved ones. A second opinion is required by some insurance companies. It is very rare that the time it will take to get a second opinion will have a negative impact on your treatment. The peace of mind it may bring is usually well worth the effort.