Certain foods can exacerbate symptoms of bile duct cancer. People may find relief by avoiding those foods, such as processed foods. A dietitian can also help create an appropriate eating plan.

The human body creates bile in the liver and stores it in the gallbladder. During digestion, bile travels to the small intestine to help break down fatty particles found in food. Bile passes through special tubes, or ducts, as it moves through the body. Bile duct cancer begins in these tubes.

This article looks at foods a person might avoid with bile duct cancer. It also discusses meal sizes, supplements, how a dietitian can help, and more.

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Fried or fatty processed foods can be difficult for the body to digest. These foods may also worsen some symptoms of bile duct cancer.

People may experience nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea with bile duct cancer. Fried and fatty foods may worsen these or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Examples of processed foods include:

  • pizza
  • hamburgers
  • french fries
  • potato chips
  • deli meats
  • sausages
  • candy bars

Anyone experiencing gastrointestinal side effects from bile duct cancer can speak with a doctor to learn more.

A person may benefit from avoiding high fiber foods, as these can worsen symptoms of diarrhea.

Examples of high fiber foods include:

  • some cereals
  • artichoke
  • lima beans
  • split peas
  • lentils
  • guava
  • raspberries
  • blackberries

Learn more about high fiber foods.

Caffeinated drinks may worsen gastrointestinal symptoms for some people with bile duct cancer. Sources of caffeine can include:

  • coffee
  • sodas
  • black tea
  • green tea

Avoiding these and other caffeine sources may help reduce stomach discomfort.

Learn about how caffeine affects the body.

People with bile duct cancer may wish to avoid consuming alcohol. Alcohol increases inflammation in the body, which may worsen certain cancer symptoms.

Additionally, regular alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. Avoiding alcohol may also help reduce the risk of other types of cancer.

Weight loss is a common side effect of bile duct cancer. People may lose their appetite and not get enough calories. Jaundice may also develop, making it harder for the body to absorb fat.

In these cases, Cancer Research UK recommends choosing full fat versions of snacks, such as yogurt and pudding.

If a person has a reduced appetite, it may be beneficial to keep nutritious snacks on hand so they can have something to eat when they can.

Examples of good foods to snack on include:

  • dried fruit
  • nuts
  • cheese
  • instant soups
  • milky drinks

A dietitian can advise on how many calories a person should aim for each day and what snacks can help them reach their calorie goal.

People with bile duct cancer may experience appetite changes. Jaundice or gastrointestinal issues can both reduce appetite.

Some people may find it easier to consume smaller meals more frequently instead of three larger meals each day.

Certain supplements may be helpful for people with bile duct cancer.

For example, protein powders or energy powders can help increase calorie intake and address fatigue.

Enzyme supplements can also make it easier for the body to digest fats found in food.

It is best to contact a doctor for advice before taking supplements. They can make sure the supplements will not interact with any medications or other treatments.

People with bile duct cancer may experience appetite loss. They may also develop appetite changes or nutrient deficiencies during cancer treatment.

A dietitian can help a person navigate the body’s changing needs throughout treatment and recovery. They can make dietary recommendations during each stage of bile duct cancer.

Dietitians can also provide recommendations about dietary supplements.

Here are some frequently asked questions about bile duct cancer.

What is the number one cause of bile duct cancer?

The exact cause of bile duct cancer is unclear. However, experts have identified certain factors that can increase the risk of developing the condition. These risk factors include:

  • older age
  • history of bile duct conditions
  • exposure to chemicals, such as asbestos
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • smoking

To learn more about bile duct cancer risk factors, it is best to contact a doctor. They can make lifestyle recommendations for people who may be at risk of the condition.

What is the average life expectancy for bile duct cancer?

The average life expectancy for bile duct cancer varies for each person.

According to the American Cancer Society, localized intrahepatic bile duct cancers, which start in the liver, have a 5-year survival rate of 23%. The 5-year survival rate for localized extrahepatic bile duct cancers, which start outside the liver, is 18%.

Learn more about the prognosis for bile duct cancer.

“Survival rate” refers to the proportion of people still alive for a length of time after receiving a particular diagnosis. For example, a 5-year survival rate of 50% means that 50%, or half, of the people are still alive 5 years after receiving the diagnosis.

These figures are just estimates and are based on the results of previous studies or treatments. They may not take into account any advances in treatment. A person can consult a healthcare professional about how their condition will affect them.

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What organs does bile duct cancer spread to?

Bile duct cancer can spread to other organs, such as the pancreas and gallbladder. It can also spread to blood vessels, lymph nodes, and other tissues in the body.

Is bile duct cancer fast growing?

Depending on the grade of cancer, bile duct cancer may be fast growing. Grade 1 is the lowest and grade 3 is the highest. Grade 3, or high grade, bile duct cancer can quickly grow and spread to other parts of the body.

Learn more about how quickly bile duct cancer spreads.

Bile duct cancer begins in the bile ducts, or the tubes that transport bile to different areas of the body. People with the condition may experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea. This can affect both appetite and digestion.

Certain foods may worsen bile duct cancer symptoms. Avoiding processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol may help provide relief.

A dietitian can help people with bile duct cancer create an eating plan and help ensure they can consume enough calories and nutrients.