Tracheal Cancer in Cats and Dogs
What are tracheal tumors?
Trachea refers to the tube that carries air to the lungs. Several different types of primary tracheal cancer have been
reported, including lymphoma, chnodrosarcoma, adenocarcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Trachea can also be
the site to which other cancers spread, namely thyroid adenocarcinoma or lymphoma.


How common are these tumors?
Cancer in the trachea is rare in cats and dogs.

What are the symptoms?
Pets with tracheal cancer usually show signs of coughing and exercise intolerance.

How is the diagnosis made?
In order to confirm cancer of the trachea, the veterinarian will have to do a biopsy with the help of fiberoptic instruments or
bronchoscope (a tube is inserted into the airways, usually through the nose or mouth). Alternatively, open surgical biopsy
with or without excision can be done.

Does cancer cause pain in pets?
Pain is common in pets with cancer, with some tumors causing more pain than others. In addition to pain caused by the
actual tumors, pets will also experience pain associated with cancer treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy or
chemotherapy. Untreated pain decreases the pet's quality of life, and prolongs recovery from the illness, treatment or
injury. It is, therefore, essential that veterinary teams that are taking care of pets with cancer should also play a vital role
in educating pet owners about recognizing and managing pain in their pets. The best way to manage cancer pain in pets
is to prevent it, a term referred to as preemptive pain management. This strategy anticipates pain ahead of time and
administers pain medication before the pet actually experiences pain, thus ensuring the pet's maximum comfort.

To learn more about which tumors are likely to cause a lot of pain, how to recognize pain in pets with cancer and what
cancer pain management options are available for your pet, please visit the
Cancer Pain Management section.

How important is nutritional support for pets with cancer?
Cancer cachexia (a term referring to progressive severe weight loss) is frequently observed in pets with cancer. Pets with
cancer lose weight partly because of lack of appetite and partly because of cancer-induced altered metabolism. Some of
the causes for decreased appetite are related to the cancer itself (for example, tumors may physically interfere with food
chewing, swallowing, and digestion process) and some may be related to the side effects of cancer treatment (for
example, some chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting, and radiation therapy can cause mouth inflammation).

Proper nutrition while undergoing cancer treatment is essential to maintain your pet's strength, improve survival times,
quality of life and maximize response to therapy. Adequate nutritional support was shown to decrease the duration of
hospitalization, reduce post-surgery complications and enhance the healing process. Additionally, pets with cancer need
to be fed diets specifically designed to provide maximum benefit and nutritional support for the patient. To learn more,
please visit the
Cancer Nutrition section.

What are the treatment options for tracheal tumors in cats and dogs?
Tracheal tumors are usually treated by surgery.

What is the prognosis for cats and dogs with tracheal tumors?
Benign lesions of the trachea have a good prognosis if they can be surgically removed. Because these cancers are rare,
there is not much information available on the prognosis of malignant tracheal cancers.

Are there any clinical trials?
There are no clinical trials specifically designed to treat this type of cancer but there are several clinical trials available for
cats and dogs with any tumor type for which your pet may qualify. To learn more these trials (which are partially or fully
funded by the institutions), please visit the
Dog Clinical Trials (any tumor type) or Cat Clinical Trials (any tumor type)

To learn more about veterinary clinical trials in general, please visit the
Pet Clinical Trials section.

Additional online resources:

  • Withrow Stephen J, and David M. Vail. Small Animal Clinical Oncology. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2007.
  • Morrison Wallace B. Cancer in Dogs and Cats: Medical and Surgical Management. Baltimore: Williams&Wilkins,
Comprehensive guide to cancer diagnosis and treatment in cats and dogs
© 2007 Pet Cancer Center. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Last updated 2/19/2017