Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in the bile ducts, or tubes that connect the gallbladder and the liver to the small intestine. They are responsible for carrying the bile, or the fluid that helps in digesting fats in food. Because they are located deep inside the body, tumours that form in bile ducts are difficult to detect during routine physical and medical exams. Thus, the majority of biliary tract cancers are found when they are in advanced stages or when the patient already suffers from various symptoms including jaundice, dark urine, and abdominal pain, among others. These symptoms suggest that the biliary ducts are already blocked.
Getting diagnosed and treated for biliary tract cancer requires the use of advanced diagnostic tools and modern medical facilities. It also requires the services of highly experienced oncologists and a multidisciplinary team of doctors with subspecialty training in different fields of medicine. In some countries, such services are not widely available or are extremely expensive. This is the reason why many biliary tract cancer patients consider medical tourism.
One of the most trusted medical tourism destinations is Southeast Asia. Over the years, the region has successfully built a stellar reputation for offering affordable but world-class cancer care that meets international standards. The region boasts a long list of cancer care specialists with years of experience and international qualifications. It also has several Joint Commission International (JCI)-accredited hospitals and dedicated oncology centres that are fully equipped with the most advanced diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical equipment. Because of this, these medical facilities are able to carry out complete tests needed to accurately diagnose the condition. These include imaging tests, tumour markers, cholangiography, laparoscopy, and biopsy, among others. They are also able to offer patients all treatment options based on the stage of cancer and the patient's overall health condition. These options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Palliative and supportive care is also provided to improve patient’s quality of life.
Aside from high quality, world-class medical care, medical tourists in Southeast Asia can also expect reasonable medical fees. All medical services – from consultation to palliative care – are up to 75% cheaper in the region when compared to Western countries.