Surgery to relieve symptoms
Different surgical procedures can be used to treat blockages caused by the tumour and to reduce the size of the tumour.
Stenting – If the tumour has blocked the common bile duct or duodenum (first part of the small bowel), a small tube called a stent can be inserted.
Debulking – If the whole tumour can’t be removed, the surgeon may try to remove some of it. This surgery, called debulking, is not always possible and will depend on the tumour’s position and size.
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If the cancer cannot be removed and is pressing on the common bile duct or duodenum, you may need a stent. A stent is a small tube made of either plastic or metal. It holds the bile duct or duodenum open, allowing the bile or food to flow into the bowel again.
A bile duct stent is usually inserted during a procedure known as an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography). In an ERCP, an endoscope is passed into the bile duct through your mouth, stomach and duodenum. With the help of x-rays, the doctor places the stent across the blockage to keep the bile duct open. You may have the ERCP as an outpatient or stay in hospital for 1–2 days.
A duodenum stent is usually inserted through the mouth using an endoscope.
Jaundice symptoms usually go away over 2–3 weeks. Your appetite is likely to improve and you may gain some weight.
Inserting a stent
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Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department, Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Marion Bamblett, Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer and Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lynda Dunstone, Consumer; Kate Graham, Accredited Practising Dietitian – Upper GI Dietitian, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Gina Hesselberg, Radiation Oncologist, St George Hospital Cancer Centre, NSW; Dr Marni Nenke, Endocrinologist and Mary Overton Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian – Upper GI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gail Smith, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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