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Pancreatic & Biliary Cancer

The biliary system consists of the organs and duct system that create, transport, store, and release bile into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) for digestion.

The biliary system includes the liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts - ducts that carry bile away from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine to aid in digestion.

The pancreas produces two substances: juices that help break down (digest) the food, and hormones (such as insulin) that regulate how the body stores and uses food. Cancer of the pancreas is a disease in which malignant cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas.

Hepatobiliary cancers refer to liver cancer and cancers of the biliary tract that occur in the bile ducts, the tubes that carry bile from the liver or gallbladder to the small intestine.

Biliary tract cancers, also called cholangiocarcinomas, refer to those malignancies occurring in the organs of the biliary system, including pancreatic cancer, gallbladder cancer, and cancer of bile ducts.

In the United States, an estimated 20,000 new cases of liver and biliary tract cancer are diagnosed annually. Biliary tract cancer is the second most common primary hepatobiliary cancer, after hepatocellular cancer. Approximately 7,500 new cases of biliary tract cancer are diagnosed each year; about 5,000 of these are gallbladder cancer, and between 2,000 and 3,000 are bile duct cancers.