Tracheal Cancer

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Tracheal cancer -- cancer in your windpipe -- is rare and slow-growing, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat. Our doctors and surgeons are equipped to diagnose tracheal cancer early and use sophisticated surgical techniques to remove these hard-to-reach tumors.

Our specialists in ear, nose, and throat surgery; medical and radiation oncology; reconstructive surgery; and oral surgery work together to create a personalized treatment plan for your type and stage of tracheal cancer. We treat your cancer promptly and aim to preserve your ability to function and resume your normal life.

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Removes the tumor, part of the trachea, lymph nodes, and surrounding tissues -- depending on the type and size of the tumor and whether the tumor has spread. Our surgeons use a wide range of surgical approaches, including laser surgery, which can reduce bleeding. Our doctors may also use robotic tools to increase precision and visualization and to allow them to remove hard-to-reach tumors.

Radiation Therapy

MRI and CT imaging technology pinpoints the precise location of the tumor, which is then targeted with beams of high-energy X-rays to destroy the cancer cells. This image-guided approach, used before and after surgery, minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue.


Kills or slows the growth of the tumor through medicines. Chemotherapy may be recommended if your cancer has spread.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.



A small sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for the presence of cancer. The biopsy may be performed through a thin, lighted tube called a bronchoscope, which is inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea.

Advanced Imaging

CT, MRI, and PET scans may be used to locate and identify the type of cancer and to determine if it has spread. We use the latest MRI technology to ensure superior imaging and CT to produce superior results with less exposure to radiation.


A lighted tube is inserted in the mouth to identify cancer and determine its extent, how big it is, and what structures are involved.

Bone Scan

Radioactive material is injected into a vein and travels through the bloodstream. A scan of the radioactive material determines if the cancer has spread to the bone.

Why Choose Duke

Nationally-Ranked Cancer Program
As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities through ongoing clinical trials. We offer you the latest research discoveries before they are available elsewhere.

Access to Ongoing Research
You may be eligible to participate in ongoing research that may help you or others with tracheal cancers.

A Comprehensive Team
Our specialists -- including otolaryngologists who are experts in head-and-neck surgery as well as medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists -- work together to ensure you receive the best possible care. Specially trained nurses, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists help you recover and resume your daily activities.

Experienced Radiologists
Our radiologists are specially trained to read images for tracheal cancer and have experience based on doing just that on a regular basis. We use MRI and CT, which produce superior quality images with lower doses of radiation exposure.

Support for You and Your Family
Our comprehensive support services range from helping your minimize the side effects of cancer treatment to helping you and your family cope with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.

Comforting Environment
Our Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients -- depending on their treatment regimen -- can receive chemotherapy outdoors.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

Patient Resources

This page was medically reviewed on 03/21/2022 by