Bronchial carcinoid tumors

Alternative names
Bronchial gland tumors; Mucous Gland Adenoma; Bronchial adenoma; Adenocarcinoma of the bronchus; Cancer - bronchial adenoma

A bronchial adenoma is a glandular tumor in the trachea or large bronchi (the large airways of the lung) that usually causes obstruction of the airway. Although the term bronchial adenoma classically refers to a benign tumor of the airway, also known as a mucous gland adenoma, it is often misapplied to malignant tumors such as carcinomas and carcinoids of the airways.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
These tumors grow slowly and rarely metastasize (spread). The cause is unknown. There is a tendency of this type of tumor to cause bleeding or obstruction of a lung or lung lobe.


  • bloody sputum  
  • cough  
  • wheezing  
  • recurrent pneumonia  
  • slowly resolving pneumonia  
  • collapse of a lung lobe or segment  
  • cough lasting more than 6 weeks.

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

  • skin blushing/flushing (see carcinoid syndrome)

Signs and tests

  • bronchoscopy  
  • chest X-ray may show a single lung nodule or pneumonia in one segment or lobe of the lung

Surgical or endoscopic removal of the tumor is the standard treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)
Surgery usually results in a complete cure.


  • bleeding  
  • airway obstruction  
  • pneumonia  
  • spreading of the tumor to regional lymph nodes (very rare)

Calling your health care provider

  • bleeding (hemoptysis)  
  • breathing difficulty


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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