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Doctors do not know the causes of bile duct cancer for sure but suspect links with excessive alcohol consumption and hepatitis. Symptoms are hard to detect in its early stages but if they are spotted it significantly improves the chances of effective treatment. According to research carried out in the UK, if it is detected early enough and operated on patients stand a 25-50% chance of living another five years. If it is detected at a later stage the chances of surviving this disease fall to just 2%. It usually only strikes people over 65 years old, and there is no noticeable difference in risks between men and women.

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Itchiness

Feeling itchy is something people hardly consider a cause for worry, but if you are over a certain age, this could be an early sign of bile duct cancer. Apparently, the blockage of the bile duct causes bile to build up in the blood and reach the skin to make it very itchy. Obviously, every older adult who suddenly starts to suffer from itchiness does not need to be terrified that they have this deadly disease. The probability is that there is a much more innocuous explanation for the way they are feeling. Because even the slightest risk is too much to take it is worth getting checked up to put the mind at rest.

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Jaundice

A yellowish tint to the skin is another symptom doctors look for in their diagnosis. In addition to the skin jaundice also usually affects the whites of the eyes. Once again this is far from sole or even the most likely explanation of the jaundiced appearance of a senior – hepatitis is a much more probable diagnosis. The key point to absorb is not to automatically assume the most severe diagnosis but to bring the issue to the doctor's attention without delay. Years of life are literally at stake so always err on the side of caution and get checked up.

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Stomach pains and swelling

Everyone appreciates that persistent stomach pains and swelling indicate a health problem that needs to be investigated immediately. There is no way anyone can know for certain the exact cause based on visual appearance and patient experience alone. While doctors know this to be one of the symptoms of this disease there are many other, and perhaps more probable diagnoses. Once again the life-threatening nature of this disease makes it a wise move to get a checkup as soon as possible.

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Changes in the appearance of human waste

Most people find the idea of observing what comes out into the toilet bowl disgusting but where a person's well-being is at stake, this becomes an unpleasant necessity. Doctors note that pale stoles and dark colored urine are another telltale symptom of this terrifying illness. Nobody suggests they need to check this carefully after every visit to the bathroom but if they experience any of the other symptoms of the disease this checking makes sense.

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Nausea

In a certain proportion of cases, patients with this disease experience nausea and they might vomit. Many other minor complaints also have this symptom. Consequently, the likelihood is that the nausea is the result of some minor issue that does not pose serious health risks. However, if it continues, it is a good idea to inform a doctor and let them decide if there are grounds for concern.

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Loss of appetite

It is well known that as people get older, their appetites change but a loss of appetite is a cause for worry. Healthy people feel hungry at breakfast and lunch times, and they eat a reasonable amount. When someone is sick, they lose their desire to eat. As long as they remain well hydrated, the lack of solid foods for a certain time can be tolerated but if the poor appetite continues for a period, bring the matter to the attention of your doctor. Even the distant possibility of a connection with this killer disease is too great a risk to take.

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Weight loss

A sudden decline in weight is another possible serious disease symptom that ought not to be ignored. Given today's preoccupation with losing weight some might be pleased to notice that their weight has gone down. If they have not begun a new diet or started going to a gym, they need to ask why this might have happened. In the absence of any plausible explanation, mention this weight decline to the doctor. Most probably it will turn out to have some innocuous cause, but this is a matter only a trained medical professional can determine.

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Fever

The fact that this disease shares so many of its symptoms with other illnesses that do not pose any threat to life makes early detection that much harder. Fever of 38C (100.4F) is a classic example of a symptom that could result from many kinds of ailments. Doctors, first of all, try to discover if it is a symptom of one of the more common illnesses. If they eliminate all the usual fever causes, they might start to suspect that this fever could be a bile duct cancer symptom.

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All chilled and shivering

It is far from abnormal for older adults to suffer from chills and shivering. This is, of course, most likely to occur during the winter months and affect those who cannot afford to heat their homes properly. It is natural to assume that this is just a winter chill that will go away when the weather improves, or they can heat their homes properly. With all the usual explanations for chills well to the forefront, it is simple to understand why another symptom of this serious disease often gets missed. The patient might not take the trouble to go the doctor with a chill, and even if he goes, the doctor will be inclined towards one of the common diagnosis options.

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Feeling rundown and fatigued

These feelings are also sometimes experienced by patients, but it is much more probable they are connected with natural aging or stresses in life. Seniors don't have the same energy levels as they did in earlier years, so they are inclined to become fatigued more easily. All the same, they cannot be too cautious where even these remote serious health risks are concerned.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.