Upper Airway Tumors: Secondary Tumors
- The majority of secondary airway tumors occur via direct extension of the trachea from nearby structures.
- A curative airway resection is possible in selected cases.
Metastatic tracheal lesions are much more common than primary tracheal tumors. Secondary tumors invading the upper airway typically arise directly from adjacent structures. This includes direct invasion from the lung, thyroid, larynx, and esophagus. These tumors rarely present in a manner amenable to surgical resection due to disease burden. Further, symptoms are often vague and may be mistaken for other diagnoses such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or pneumonia,. The primary neoplasm is usually present on CT scan with contiguous extension to the airways with focal wall thickening, or endotracheobronchial mass. Despite this, the situation occasionally arises in which resection of the trachea or carina is a consideration. In the case of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), growing experience with stage T4 tumors in selected instances has suggested a role for aggressive surgical therapy.
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