Trachea and Bronchial Tumors in Children

What Are Trachea and Bronchial Tumors?

Tracheobronchial tumors begin in the cells that line the surface of the lung. Most tracheobronchial tumors in children are benign and occur in the trachea or large bronchi (large airways of the lung). Sometimes, a slowgrowing tracheobronchial tumor becomes cancer that may spread to other parts of the body.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Tracheobronchial Tumors in Children?

Tracheobronchial tumors may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child's doctor if your child has any of the following:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Spitting up blood from the airways or lung
  • Frequent infections in the lung, such as pneumonia

Other conditions that are not tracheobronchial tumors may cause these same signs and symptoms. For example, symptoms of tracheobronchial tumors are a lot like the symptoms of asthma, and that can make it hard to diagnose the tumor.

How Are Tracheobronchial Tumors Diagnosed?

Tests to diagnose and stage tracheobronchial tumors may include the following:

  • Physical exam and history
  • X-ray of the chest
  • CT scan

A biopsy of the abnormal area is usually not done because it can cause severe bleeding.

Other tests used to diagnose tracheobronchial tumors include the following:

  • Bronchography: A procedure to look inside the trachea and large airways in the lung for abnormal areas. A bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea and lungs. A bronchoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing. A contrast dye is put through the bronchoscope to make the larynx, trachea, and airways show up more clearly on x-ray film.
  • Octreotide scan: A type of radionuclide scan used to find carcinoid and other types of tumors. A very small amount of radioactive octreotide (a hormone that attaches to carcinoid tumors) is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. The radioactive octreotide attaches to the tumor and a special camera that detects radioactivity is used to show where the tumors are in the body.

What Is the Treatment and Prognosis for Tracheobronchial Tumors in Children?

Treatment of tracheobronchial tumors in children may include the following:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor. Sometimes a type of surgery called a sleeve resection is used. The lymph nodes and vessels where cancer has spread are also removed.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment of recurrent tracheobronchial tumors in children may include the following:

  • A clinical trial that checks a sample of the patient's tumor for certain gene changes. The type of targeted therapy that will be given to the patient depends on the type of gene change.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) for children with tracheobronchial cancer is very good, unless the child has rhabdomyosarcoma.

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Last updated Oct. 6, 2017