Management and prognosis of primary tracheal cancer: a national analysis

Laryngoscope. 2014 Jan;124(1):145-50. doi: 10.1002/lary.24123. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Objectives/hypothesis: To perform a national review of the incidence and treatment of primary tracheal cancer and to identify gaps in service provision and factors associated with survival.

Study design: Retrospective analysis of Hospital Episode Statistics data for England between 1996 and 2011.

Methods: Information about age, sex, morbidity, provider trust, diagnostic delay, nature of hospital admission and treatment, and palliation-free survival were recorded. The relationship between variables and survival was explored with Cox regression.

Results: There were 874 patients, giving an incidence of 0.9 per million. Mean age at diagnosis was 66 ± 13, and there were 456 (52%) males. Mean presentation to diagnosis latency was 2.5 ± 8 months, and 40% of patients presented as emergency admissions. There were 19 cases of oesophageal involvement and 241 cases of bronchopulmonary involvement; and 188 patients developed distant metastases. There were 60 curative resections (6.9%), which was the most significant predictor of palliation-free survival (hazard ratio: 0.23; 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.38). Other prognostic variables included age, sex, emergency admission, interventional bronchoscopy, chemotherapy, oesophageal involvement, and distant metastases. Ten-year palliation-free survival was 60.8% with curative resection and 19.5% overall. Eighty-six percent of patients were treated in units that treated fewer than one patient per year.

Conclusion: Tracheal cancer is under-recognized and under-treated. Early diagnosis, access to interventional bronchoscopy, and surgical treatment in specialist units may improve the survival of patients with this condition.

Keywords: Tracheal cancer; interventional bronchoscopy; tracheal resection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Tracheal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Tracheal Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Tracheal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Young Adult