Continued uncertainty about the prognosis for patients with bronchial adenomata led to a review of the experience of this condition in the Brompton Hospital. Of 72 patients seen between January 1955 and December 1972, 39 were women and 33 men, mean age 45 years, range 9-73 years. The commonest presenting symptoms were haemoptysis, cough, sputum, and repeated chest infections. Positive bronchoscopic biopsy occurred in 35 of 43 cases; five of these were originally reported as carcinomata, of oat-cell type in four. Plain chest film abnormality occurred in 69 patients. Seventy-three operative procedures comprised two endoscopic removals, two wedge resections, six bronchotomies, five pneumonectomies, and 58 lobectomies (seven with sleeve resection). Recurrence in three of six bronchotomies--two with adenoid cystic carcinomata (cylindromata)--necessitated further surgery. Lobectomy and lymph node dissection is usually the operation of choice. Histology confirmed 67 carcinoids (eight with atypical histology or lymph node metastases), two adenoid cystic carcinomata, one muco-epidermoid, and two mucous gland adenomata. Prolonged follow-up is especially indicated in patients with adenoid cyst carcinoma and in those with atypical or metastatic carcinoid histology. Although such pathology is not incompatible with long survival, of 10 patients in these categories, all five late deaths were probably related to the tumour. However, of 57 patients considered to have had typical carcinoid histology and adequate removal of the tumour, there has to date been no tumour-related death, but one patient developed radiosensitive atypical carcinoid tracheal tumours nine years later. The actuarially assessed survival of 71 patients undergoing surgery for bronchial adenomata was 75% at 15 years. Specific tumour types should replace the term bronchial adenoma.
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