Background: Tracheal tumors are uncommon, making up only 0.2% of all respiratory malignancies in the United States. One consequence of this low incidence is that few centers accumulate meaningful experience. Another is the lack of awareness of effective therapy. Bronchial gland tumors demonstrate oncologic diversity and include benign, low-grade, and high-grade malignant tumors.
Methods: We reviewed the present knowledge of bronchial gland tumors of the trachea, carina, and bronchi, including the epidemiology, presentation, evaluation, tumor types, and treatment options.
Results: The malignant bronchial gland tumors, adenoid cystic carcinoma and mucoepidermoid carcinoma, are far more common than benign mucinous cystadenoma or pleomorphic adenoma. Complete resection of localized tumors has excellent long-term results in symptomatic benign tumors. The disease-free survival after resection of malignant tumors is limited by distant metastasis and regional disease, while local recurrence is uncommon. Postoperative mediastinal radiation is now accepted adjuvant therapy. Experience at our institute demonstrates a significant survival advantage for patients with complete resection compared to unresectable patients.
Conclusions: Expanding knowledge of diagnostic evaluation and surgical therapy can improve the long-term survival of patients with tracheobronchial gland tumors.