Tracheal Tumors

Tracheal Tumors Program

The Tracheal Tumors Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides specialized care and support for people diagnosed with Tracheal Tumors.

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The Tracheal Tumors Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides specialized care and support for people diagnosed with Tracheal Tumors, close to home. The trachea (airway tube or windpipe) is the airway that runs from your larynx (voice box) to your bronchi, which leads to your lungs.  

Every patient who comes to the Tracheal Tumors Program receives Patients First care throughout diagnosis and treatment, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, and innovative, advanced approaches to treatment. Our thoracic and head and neck experts have extensive experience in surgically treating and removing tracheal tumors. 

Tracheal Tumors
  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

We offer a comprehensive program supported by a multidisciplinary team of regarded thoracic and head and neck experts. Taking a team approach to your treatment, care is coordinated among our specialists, and we offer a range of support services, ensuring you receive the highest quality care. This collaborative approach allows us to focus our entire team’s expertise and energy on providing the best strategies for diagnosing and treating our patients, supporting the best possible outcomes.  

Our multidisciplinary tumor board meets once a week to discuss each patient. Specialists in treating lung cancers and tumors, esophageal cancer and other cancers of the chest sit together to talk through the best treatment options, including clinical trials, for each individual. Patients get the benefit of several expert opinions.


What We Treat

Tumors originating in the trachea are rare, but tumors which have spread there from other areas (including the lung, esophagus, thyroid, or larynx (voice box) are more common. They result in a narrowing at the opening of the trachea and limit airflow to the lungs (regardless of whether they are malignant or benign). 

The three most common trachea carcinomas (malignant tumors) are:  

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Usually associated with smoking and older men, it is a fast-growing tumor and is often diagnosed when it’s too large to remove.  
  • Adenoid cystic carcinomas: Slow-growing tumors not related to smoking; they can spread along the trachea lining. These tumors occur equally in men and women between the ages of 40 and 60. 
  • Carcinoid tumor: A slow-growing tumor which begins in the cells of the endocrine or nervous system. They can appear anywhere in the body, including the trachea.  
  • Chondromas: A type of tracheal tumor which forms from the cartilage that makes up the trachea (airway tube). This type of tumor can turn cancerous after a period of time. 

Tracheal tumors can also be non-cancerous but may require treatment if they are restricting airflow.


Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Tracheal Tumors

As tracheal tumors can restrict airflow, the first symptom is often breathing difficulties. However, there are many other conditions that can affect breathing, so your doctor will look for other symptoms as well:  

  • Noisy breathing, including a gasping sound
  • Wheezing/coughing, with or without blood 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent upper airway infections. 
  • Difficulty swallowing  
  • Hoarseness. 

Causes & Risk Factors of Tracheal Tumors  

Squamous cell carcinomas are believed to be a direct result of smoking. Hemangioma (a common vascular birthmark) which can spread from the face to the neck is also believed to be a risk factor. 

Always report any of the symptoms listed above to your doctor so they can rule out a tumor.


Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of Tracheal Tumors 

Tracheal tumors are rare and usually slow growing. With no specific symptoms, they can be difficult to diagnose and can be misdiagnosed as another condition like bronchitis, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The following diagnostic tests may be ordered for your doctor to determine the cause of your breathing problems:  

  • CT scans: These will produce images of the size and location of a tumor, any narrowing of the trachea and if the lymph nodes are affected. 
  • Pulmonary function testing: To see how well the lungs are functioning and can show a pattern which indicates a blockage in the trachea. 
  • Bronchoscopy: A thin tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the trachea so your doctor can view trachea abnormalities. They can also remove tissue via a biopsy for testing.  
  • Virtual bronchoscopy: A high-quality image of the trachea is taken via a CT scan without the need for a bronchoscope.  

Treatment of Tracheal Tumors 

Treatments for tracheal tumors encompass minimally invasive, robotic, open surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Depending on the stage and type of your cancer, a combination of surgery and medical and/or radiation oncology may be recommended. Treatments include:  

  • Surgery: The preferred method if feasible, involves part of the trachea and the tumor being removed, with the remaining ends then being connected to each other. 
  • Tracheobronchial airway stent: A metal or silicone tube is inserted to keep the trachea open. 
  • Photodynamic therapy: A multi-step procedure which involves first injecting photofrin into the veins which then concentrates into the tumor. After a couple of days a bronchoscope with a laser is used to activate the Photofrin and destroy the tumor. Later, the bronchoscope allows the removal of dead tumor tissue. This method can shrink a tumor but not cure it.  
  • Micro-debriding: A bronchoscope with a micro-debrider is inserted into the tumor via a bronchoscope and removes the tumor to open the trachea. 
  • Laser therapy: To vaporize the tumor. 
  • Coring: A rigid bronchoscope can separate the tumor from the wall of the trachea. 

Radiation Therapy 

Radiation therapy can be used to treat tracheal tumors that are large or involve more than 50% of the trachea or have spread to areas such as the lymph nodes or other areas of the chest. It can also be used for patients who are not candidates for surgery. The two most used types of radiation therapy include:  

  • External–beam radiation: A machine outside of the body delivers beams of radiation to the site of the tumor.   
  • Brachytherapy: Small radioactive seeds are placed inside the body via a catheter, near the tumor to deliver high doses of radiation.

Program Caregivers

The Tracheal Tumors Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is comprised of a multidisciplinary team and offers specialized support in areas ranging from diagnostic imaging to post-operative care. Caregivers involved in this program include:

  • Thoracic Surgeons
  • Pulmonologists
  • Medical Oncologists
  • Radiation Oncologists
  • Thoracic Radiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Intensivists
  • Specialized Nursing Staff
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Pain Management Practitioners
  • Case Managers
  • Social Workers.

Tracheal Tumors Program Doctors

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