Background: Endotracheal/endobronchial metastases (EEMs) from nonpulmonary neoplasms are rare. However, their definition and developmental modes have not yet been fully elucidated.
Methods: EEMs were defined as documented nonpulmonary neoplasms metastatic to the subsegmental or more proximal central bronchus, in a bronchoscopically visible range. The clinical and pathologic features of 16 cases were reviewed, with special emphasis on the developmental modes based on five criteria: location in the tracheobronchial tree, number of lesions, laterality of lesions, depth of lesions, and relationship with the associated bronchus.
Results: The developmental modes were proposed on the basis of the above five criteria as follows: type I, direct metastasis to the bronchus; type II, bronchial invasion by a parenchymal lesion; type III, bronchial invasion by mediastinal or hilar lymph node metastasis; and type IV, peripheral lesions extended along the proximal bronchus. Primary tumors included colorectal in six patients, breast in three patients, uterus in two patients, osteosarcoma of the bone in two patients, and maxillary, larynx, and parotid carcinoma in one patient each, respectively. The mean recurrence interval was 65.3 months. The developmental modes were as follows: type I, five patients; type II, one patient; type III, four patients; and type IV, nine patients. Three patients underwent surgical resection. One patient has remained well for 5 years after operation. Median and mean survival times were 9 months and 15.5 months, respectively.
Conclusion: The mean recurrence interval was long at 65.3 months, but the mean survival time was short at 15.5 months. Type I accounted for only 5 of 16 patients. Type II was found in only one patient. It is thought that this type is a rare form. Type IV affected nine patients. Treatment plans must be individualized, because in some cases, long-term survival can be expected.