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Tracheal cancer


The trachea is connected to the larynx and bronchi, and thus leads the air from the upper aerodigestive tract into the lungs. It is located in front of the esophagus, and extends vertically about ten centimeters from the base of the neck until it splits into two bronchi for each lung. This muscle and cartilage structure may be the site of tumor development. Tracheal tumors can be both benign and malignant. Cancers are relatively rare, and it is mainly male smokers who develop a cancer of the trachea, usually after the age of 60.


Symptoms caused by cancers of the trachea are not specific to this disease. This will essentially consist of:
- coughing;
- difficulty breathing;
- abnormal shortness of breath due to physical effort;
- trouble swallowing or eating, called dysphagia, if there is a compression of the esophagus by tracheal tumor.
Also, signs of poor general condition with weight loss, loss of appetite and fatigue.


Given these symptoms, the first examination that is usually performed is a chest radiograph, which seldom shows a tumor, and because of its rare occurrence, another condition is often initially suspected. A CT scan is possible for a more specific search. A suspicious lesion in the trachea that can be seen or not coupled with the persistence of symptoms, often leads to an endoscopy, which allows direct visualization inside the ducts, cavity, mouth and bronchi through a mini camera. Injury can be found and biopsies will often be performed at this level. If the cancerous nature of the tumor is confirmed, a staging is set up, which corresponds to several tests in order to investigate the invasion of the tumor spreading to adjacent structures or organs.


There are several methods to treat a cancer of the trachea; the decision to use one or the other or to combine several of them depends on the stage of the tumor and its spreading. Surgery is possible, as well as the use of radiation or chemotherapy.


We know that cancer of the trachea is very common among smokers; tobacco is its main cause in many cases. An ideal way to prevent tracheal cancer is to avoid tobacco use. It is also recommended that to ensure to avoid inhaling carcinogens, it is important to wear a surgical mask when working in high-risk environments.

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