Trachea cancer

Trachea Cancer shown on a diagram of the respiratory system

Facts and figures about trachea cancer

Rare cancer accounts for only 0.1% of all cancers diagnosed each year in the UK. Most of the tumours are squamous cell carcinomas or adenonoid cystic carcinoma. Higher incidence of squamous cell carcinomas in men than women; age related as most common in men over 60+ years.

The incidence of adenoid cystic carcinoma is equal in men and women, giving a male to female ratio of 1:1, commonly occurring between the ages of 40-60 years. Smoking is known to be a risk factor in squamous cell carcinomas but the cause of adenoid cystic is unknown. Diagnosis may be delayed as it is sometimes mistaken for asthma or bronchitis.

Trachea cancer symptoms

  • A dry cough.
  • Breathlessness.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Fever, chills and recurrent chest infections.
  • Coughing up blood (haemoptysis).
  • Wheezing/noisy breathing.

Diagnosis of trachea cancer

Investigations may include:

  • Chest X-ray.
  • CT scan.
  • MRI scan.
  • Bronchoscopy: tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.

Trachea cancer treatment

Depends on several factors:

  • The size of the tumour.
  • The position of the tumour.
  • The stage of the cancer.
  • General health.

Surgery

Surgery may be possible if the tumours are small and involves removal of the affected part of the trachea.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be used to help relieve symptoms, but rarely used for adenoid cystic tumours.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy may be used post-surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence (adjuvant radiotherapy). Radical radiotherapy may be prescribed in early low grade tumours where surgery is not possible. Palliative radiotherapy may be used to help relieve symptoms.

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