There are certain things that can increase the risk of developing bile duct cancer. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get cancer. And not having a risk factor does not mean that you will not get it.
Some long-term inflammatory conditions can increase the risk of bile duct cancer. These are:
- ulcerative colitis – which causes inflammation of the bowel
- primary sclerosing cholangitis – a rare condition which causes inflammation of the bile ducts.
People who have scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) have an increased risk of developing bile duct cancer. There are many different causes of cirrhosis, such as hepatitis B and C, fatty liver disease, or alcohol-related liver disease.
In Africa and Asia, a large number of bile duct cancers are thought to be caused by infection with a parasite called the liver fluke.
Bile duct cancer, like other cancers, is not infectious. It cannot be passed on to other people.