Leaders in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Tracheal Cancer

Cancer of the trachea or windpipe involves the airway that goes from your larynx (voice box) to your bronchi. Tracheal cancer originates in the trachea or it can develop from cancer in other organs spreading to other parts of the body. The tumors in this region are rare, so patients need specialized care from experienced oncologists.

The most common types of malignant tracheal and bronchial tumors include squamous cell carcinoma (the most common), adenoid cystic carcinoma and carcinoid tumors that are derived from neuroendocrine cells.

Benign (noncancerous) tracheal tumors include chondromas (the most common), hemangiomas and papillomas.

Learn more about tracheal causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Tracheal Cancer Treatment

Together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we have the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meeting the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and access to clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere.

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New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We offer access to New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in lung and thoracic cancers.

Our Oncology Nurse Navigators Will Guide You Through Your Tracheal Cancer Journey

Oncology nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Tracheal Cancer Symptoms

Tracheal cancer symptoms may include:

  • Coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • A high-pitched noise when a breath is drawn in (stridor)
  • Wheezing

Additional tracheal cancer symptoms may present in the advanced stages of the disease. These include difficulty swallowing and hoarseness and are usually an indicator that cancer has spread from the trachea.

Tracheal Cancer Diagnosis

Tracheal cancer is rare and slow-growing, which makes it difficult to diagnose. It is also difficult because tracheal cancer symptoms can be easily confused with those of other conditions like asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To make an accurate tracheal cancer diagnosis, your doctor may order the following diagnostic tests:

  • CT scans. Create detailed pictures of the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Bronchoscopy. Allows your doctor to see inside of the trachea and remove any cancer cells.
  • Pulmonary function test. Measures how well the lungs are working and may discover an irregular pattern that suggests blockage.

Tracheal Cancer Treatment

There are several tracheal cancer treatment options. Some are used to cure cancer and others are used to control symptoms. Treatment may include surgery or bronchoscopic treatments alone or with radiation therapy.

Surgery

Resection, or surgical removal of the tumor, is the preferred tracheal cancer treatment for malignant and benign tumors that are confined to less than half of the trachea. During the procedure, the surgeon exposes the trachea and then removes the tumor and some healthy surrounding tissues.

The procedure is complex and can be difficult because the blood supply to the trachea is delicate and easily damaged. Our surgeons are trained to preserve the blood supply and reduce the risk of complications, which increases the chances of a successful outcome.

Bronchoscopic Treatments

Bronchoscopic treatments can be delivered through a bronchoscope — a flexible tube attached to a tiny camera that is inserted into the mouth. These treatments may be recommended for patients who are not surgical candidates.

The most common bronchoscopic treatments are:

  • Laser therapy. A highly focused beam of light is used to vaporize tumor tissue, opening the airway.
  • Spray cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the tumor so the surgeon can remove it. In some cases, spray cryotherapy may be used to stop bleeding in patients who cough up blood.
  • Brachytherapy. A bronchoscope is used to guide radiation directly to the tumor site, which minimizes damage to healthy tissues nearby.
  • Photodynamic therapy. A strong light is used to activate a photosensitive chemical that destroys abnormal tumor tissue while minimally damaging healthy tissue nearby.
  • Argon beam coagulation. Electricity and argon gas are used with other bronchoscopic treatments to kill tumor tissue.
  • Rigid coring. A rigid bronchoscope is inserted into the trachea, pushing through the center of the tumor to open the airway.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be used when:

  • A tumor takes up more than 50 percent of the trachea
  • A tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes or other areas of the chest
  • Patients are in poor general health
  • Patients have an adenoid cystic tumor

External-beam radiation is the main type of radiation therapy for patients with tracheal cancer. It involved a beam of radiation that is delivered from an external source to the tumor site. Brachytherapy, which is a localized form of radiation therapy, is an alternative to external beam radiation.

Tracheal Cancer Prognosis

Tracheal cancer is curable if it is diagnosed in its early stages before it has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes. However, because tracheal cancer symptoms are often similar to other respiratory conditions, it is difficult to diagnose early.

About 10 percent of cases of tracheal cancers have tumors that can be completely removed. Less than 15 percent of patients have a tracheal cancer life expectancy of more than 3 years following diagnosis. It is important to note that survival rates and small cell lung cancer life expectancy depend on several factors, including the disease stage.

We bring you all-inclusive tracheal cancer care without having to travel far from home. Our all-inclusive approach to cancer care ensures patients receive the finest care and the best outcomes possible.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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