Bronchial Adenoma: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 13 May 2022.

What Is a Bronchial Adenoma?

A bronchial adenoma is an uncommon cancer that begins in the mucous glands and ducts of the bronchial airways (bronchi) or windpipe (trachea), as well as the salivary glands.

Despite the fact that the term “adenoma" refers to a benign tumour, most bronchial adenomas are cancerous and may spread to other areas of the body. They do, though, usually develop slowly and are treatable, so if you are affected, it has a good prognosis.



These include:

Carcinoid tumors: Hormone-producing cells and nerve cells are both affected by carcinoid tumours. They may originate in the lungs, the liver, or the intestines.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma: The salivary glands in the mouth and throat are where adenoid cystic carcinoma typically begins. It may also damage the trachea, eye tear glands, sweat glands, and a woman's uterus, vulva, and breasts.

Mucoepidermoid carcinoma: Mucoepidermoid carcinoma is a form of cancer that occurs in the salivary glands. The parotid glands in front of the ears are the most common site of this form of cancer.


The precise reason remains unclear to doctors. In some cases of this cancer, genes may play a role.

Lung carcinoid tumours are more common in people who have the genetic disorder multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Radiation to the head and neck will increase your chances of developing mucoepidermoid carcinoma.



Since carcinoid tumours and certain other forms of bronchial adenomas develop slowly, you may not notice any signs at all.

The type of signs you encounter will be determined by the location of the cancer.

Symptoms of a carcinoid tumour include:

  • Cough, occasionally with blood
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Flushed face
  • Infections, for example, pneumonia

Symptoms of adenoid cystic carcinoma include:

  • Lump on the roof of the mouth, underneath the tongue, or at the bottom of the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Numbness in the jaw, roof of the mouth, face, or tongue
  • Bump under the jaw or in front of the ear

Symptoms of mucoepidermoid carcinoma include:

  • Swelling within the glands near your ears, under your lower jaw, or in your mouth
  • Numbness or weakness of the face
  • Pain in the face


Your doctor can perform one or more of the following tests to diagnose bronchial adenoma:

Biopsy: A biopsy involves the removal of a tiny piece of tissue. The doctor examines the tissue under a microscope to determine if it contains cancer cells.

X-ray: Low doses of radiation are used in X-rays to create images of tissues within the body. An X-ray of the chest may diagnose a tumour in your lungs.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): MRI produces images of organs and tissues within the body utilising strong magnets and radio waves. It will reveal the tumor's scale. Before the exam, you may be offered a liquid to drink or injected into a vein. This contrast dye can aid in the development of a clearer picture.

Other kinds of scans may be used by your doctor to look for the tumour and see if it has spread.



Your treatment plan will depend on:

  • Type of cancer
  • Stage of cancer
  • Age
  • General health
  • Your personal preferences

Treatments include:

Surgery. The most frequent treatment for bronchial adenomas is surgery. The cancer and any of the surrounding tissue would be removed by the surgeon. To prevent the disease from spreading, lymph nodes surrounding the tumour can be removed.

Radiation. High-energy X-rays are used to destroy cancer cells in this treatment. It will help you feel better by alleviating symptoms. It may also be used during treatment to destroy any cancer cells that remain.

Most of the time, you'll be exposed to radiation from a machine outside of your body. Another treatment choice is to insert small radioactive pellets near the tumour. Your doctor will extract them a few days later.

Radiation can trigger a variety of side effects, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Skin redness in the area where received radiation
  • Sore throat and mouth
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

When you stop treatment, these issues should improve.

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a procedure that uses medications to destroy cancer cells all over the body. It may be given intravenously (IV) or as a tablet. If the cancer has advanced, you may need chemo in addition to other treatments. It's even likely that you'll have it following treatment to destroy any cancer cells that exist.

Chemotherapy can cause the following side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Weight loss

Immunotherapy. This therapy employs medication to enhance the immune system's capacity to detect and eliminate cancer. Tumors can be shrunk or stopped with immunotherapy.

Targeted therapy. These therapies search for proteins or genes that are exclusive to the cancer and assist in its development.


What to Expect

You might go into remission as a result of your treatment. This suggests that the doctors have found no signs of disease in your body and that you are relieved of symptoms.

Despite this, bronchial adenomas may reappear. It is referred to as a recurrence. Regular checkups, blood tests, and examinations that look for symptoms of the disease will be arranged by the doctor. If the cancer returns, your doctor will use the same or alternative treatments to try to prevent it from spreading.



Bronchial adenoma treatment can be stressful. It's important, to be honest with your doctors, nurses, and other members of your treatment team regarding your feelings. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor can assist you with overcoming any of your problems and feelings.

You might also want to search for a support group for others who have the same difficulty as you. It helps to be able to connect with people who understand what you're going through so they can relate to you


Referenced on 1.4.2021

  1. Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Organization International: “What is ACC?"
  2. American Cancer Society: “Can Lung Carcinoid Tumors be Found Early?" “Signs and symptoms of lung carcinoid tumors." “Surgery for salivary gland cancer." “What are the risk factors for lung carcinoid tumors?" “What are the risk factors for salivary gland cancer?" “What is salivary gland cancer?"
  3. American Society of Clinical Oncology: “Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Overview." “Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Risk Factors." “Adenoid cystic carcinoma: Symptoms and signs." “Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Treatment Options." “Carcinoid tumor diagnosis." “Carcinoid Tumor: Overview." “Carcinoid Tumor: Symptoms and Signs." “Carcinoid Tumor: Treatment Options."
  4. Kayser, Klaus. Analytical Lung Pathology, 2012.
  5. National Cancer Institute: “Salivary Gland Cancer Treatment – for health professionals (PDQ).
  6. The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation: “A Review of Carcinoid Cancer."

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