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What Is Bronchial Cancer?

Persistent coughing is a symptom of bronchial cancer.
Radiation therapy may be helpful in treating bronchial cancer.
Smoking cigarettes may greatly increase the risk of developing cancerous bronchial tumors.
The human respiratory system, showing the bronchial tubes in red.
Surgery is typically the first method used in bronchial cancer treatment.
Article Details
  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Bronchial cancer is a form of lung cancer that primarily affects the bronchial tubes. The bronchial tubes, also referred to as bronchi, are thin passages that connect the windpipe to the lungs and facilitate the inhalation of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. The cancer typically develops as a tumor on the bronchi, but can extend to other areas of the body and make the affected areas unable to function properly.

One of the first symptoms of this type of cancer is a persistent cough. As the cancerous tumors grow on the bronchi, they can cause a person to begin coughing up blood and mucus. Since the bronchi are a large part of the respiratory process, cancer can result in shortness of breath because the tumors may cause a partial obstruction between the windpipe and lungs.

Bronchial cancer does not have a completely proven cause. Smoking cigarettes or being exposed to smoke for extended periods of time may greatly increase a person’s risk of developing cancerous bronchi tumors. People who have never smoked or been around smokers can still develop this type of cancer in rare cases, although the exact reason why is not known.

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If the cancer is treated when it is in its beginning stages of formation, a person is less likely to suffer any long-term consequences. The first type of treatment is typically surgery, where a surgeon makes an incision and completely removes the cancerous growths on the bronchial tubes. If the cancer appears to be extensive or has started to spread to other internal organs, radiation therapy is generally recommended to reduce the tumors. Radiation therapy uses a machine to deliver waves of energy into the body to destroy the cancer cells. It may also be combined with chemotherapy, drugs that help kill cancer cells.

Even with treatment, bronchial cancer can return. To ensure that this does not happen, a medical professional will typically advise a patient to have frequent checkup appointments, especially within the first two to five years afterward, so the bronchial tubes can be closely observed. If a person with the condition does not change his or her habits and keeps smoking or exposing him- or herself to other people’s smoke, the cancer is likely to return. When bronchi tumors grow back, it can be more difficult to completely treat them. If the cancer keeps growing on the bronchi and is not treated, the patient may die in less than a year.

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Discuss this Article

anon327159
Post 4

My mom was just diagnosed with bronchial cancer and what's weird is she never smoked in her life. I think it's from all the fumes that she breathes in at her hair salon.

SteamLouis
Post 3

@burcidi-- I hope thing change for the better for your dad and not worse. And the symptoms might vary slightly from person to person, but he may experience symptoms like difficulty breathing and coughing bloody mucus. The article went through the symptoms pretty well.

Of course, there are also side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. He may have fatigue, nausea, aches and pains, inflammation and slight swelling.

If the cancer spreads to other areas, there could be other symptoms associated with that. But hopefully that won't be the case.

By the way, is the cancer too spread out now? Because you didn't mention anything about surgery. Usually surgery is the first option in lung cancer treatment before chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

ysmina
Post 2
@burcidi-- I'm sorry to hear about your father and I hope he gets better soon.

I'm a med student and have been reading a lot of lung cancer facts this week. From what I know, bronchial cancer is actually the most common type of lung cancer. And it's seen in men more than it is seen in women.

Has your dad ever worked around mines, coal, gas or in construction using asbestos?

I ask because cigarette smoke is not the only kind of pollution that increases the risk of bronchial cancer. Being exposed to these other types of pollution has the same effect. And since you said that there isn't a genetic predisposition, this might be a cause.

burcidi
Post 1

My dad has been diagnosed with bronchial cancer. We got the news just last week and apparently, he's a little past stage 3. The doctors are preparing to get him started on chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We are glad that it was caught before the last stage and his doctor and the chemotherapy and radiation specialists spoke very positively.

This is giving us hope but we're still a bit confused as to how this happened and got to this stage. We actually don't have many instances of cancer in our family. And my dad doesn't smoke, he never has. The only lung cancer symptom he's had and that for the past several months is an unexplained cough and mucus.

He thought he was having some sort of an allergic reaction like asthma when he went to see his doctor. It was a shock to hear that they found tumors on his bronchial tubes.

I'm curious, how common is bronchial cancer? And does anyone have any idea about what might trigger it other than smoking? God forbid, if things change for the worse, what kind of symptoms and complications will my dad have?

I would love to hear others' experiences with this condition and any recommendations you may have for us.

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