Hepatobiliary cancer

What is hepatobiliary cancer?

To understand malignant (cancerous) hepatobiliary cancers, it’s important to understand what cancer is: the production of abnormal cells.

The body is programmed to routinely replenish cells in different organs. As normal cells age or get damaged, they die off. New cells take their place. Abnormal cell growth refers to a buildup of extra cells. This happens when:

  • New cells form even though the body doesn’t need them or
  • Old, damaged cells don’t die off.

These extra cells slowly accumulate to form a tissue mass, lump or growth called a tumor. These abnormal cells can destroy normal body tissue and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system.

About the hepatobiliary system

The hepatobiliary system includes the liver, gallbladder and bile duct. These organs work together to make bile. Bile helps you digest food in the small intestine, specifically fats. The liver makes the bile. The bile duct is a tube that passes bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. The bile is stored in the gallbladder. Hepatobiliary cancers include:

  • Liver cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Bile duct cancer