Due to the effect tracheal tumors may have on the windpipe, breathing difficulties are often the first sign of a problem whether the tumor is benign or malignant (cancerous). Still, breathing problems may result from tracheal stenosis, asthma, bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), so your doctor will look for the following symptoms as well:
- Wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing, with or without blood.
- Noisy breathing, including a gasping sound.
- Frequent upper airway infections.
- Difficulty swallowing and hoarseness, which may indicate the tumor has grown beyond the trachea and is pressing against the esophagus.
Causes and Risk Factors
The most common tracheal tumor, squamous cell carcinoma, is thought to be a direct result of smoking. If you are a smoker, your doctor can recommend resources for quitting. Another risk factor is a hemangioma, which may spread from the face to the neck.
It is recommended that you check with your physician if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, if only to rule out a tumor as the cause.