Ampullary cancer is a rare cancer that develops in an area of your digestive system known as the ampulla of Vater. The ampulla of Vater is located where the bile duct and pancreatic duct join and empty into the small intestine. Ampullary cancer forms near many other parts of the digestive system like the pancreas, liver, and small intestine.
Signs and symptoms of ampullary cancer may include:
The exact cause of ampullary cancer is not known. Generally, cancer starts when cells develop changes in their DNA. Uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells leads to accumulation of the cells. This forms a tumor that may invade and destroy normal body tissue.
Ampullary cancer has been categorized into five stages:
Treatment depends upon the type of ampullary cancer you have, the stage of cancer, and the patient’s age. Types of treatment for cancer can be either local or systemic:
The primary treatment for ampullary cancer is a surgery where the tumor is removed. The Whipple procedure is also called a pancreaticoduodenectomy. This is a major surgery where the surgeon removes cancer in the affected part of the ampulla of Vater. Tissue adjacent to the tumor site is often removed as well. These include the lower half of the stomach, the duodenum, the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, and lymph nodes.
Patients who cannot have a Whipple procedure may need to undergo less complex surgery or another treatment procedure (such as using a laser to kill the cancer cells). Some doctors may also advise other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery. The treatment options for ampullary cancer may include: