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Tracheal (Airway) Tumors and Strictures

Anything that narrows or blocks your “wind pipe” (trachea) can cause difficulty breathing and severe respiratory problems. Although rare, benign and malignant tumors can develop in the trachea. The most common cancerous lesions of the trachea include:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma, often a result of smoking and appearing in men over 50.
  • Adenoid cystic carcinomas, slow-growing tumors usually not related to smoking and occurring in men and women (ages 40 to 60) equally.

Other causes of airway restriction include infection and post-intubation trauma that leads to scarring and narrowing of the trachea.

NorthShore’s highly trained thoracic specialists have extensive experience diagnosing and treating airway disorders. From minimally invasive tracheal dilation to widen constricted areas to surgical removal (resection), we provide expert evaluation and personalized care. We also work closely with the multidisciplinary team at the Kellogg Cancer Center in the treatment of tracheal malignancies to optimize surgical outcomes.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Tracheal Tumors

Difficulty breathing is usually the first indication of a problem with the trachea.  Other signs you may have a tracheal tumor or stricture include:

  • persistent cough
  • habitual hoarseness
  • coughing up of blood
  • problems swallowing (dysphagia)

The symptoms of tracheal tumors or strictures share similarities with a variety of conditions affecting the respiratory system. It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis from your primary care physician or pulmonologist. Recommended diagnostics tests may include:

Surgical Treatment Options for Tracheal Tumors

Depending on their size and location, most tracheal tumors can be surgically removed. Our skilled thoracic specialists perform tracheal resection procedures to cut out the tumor and repair the trachea. Usually this procedure involves taking out a complete section of the trachea to prevent recurrence and suturing or reconnecting the trachea where the tumor was removed. For tumors that are too large to be removed surgically, our surgeons can remove the tumor with a bronchoscope using either laser or cryo (freezing) ablation.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.