Endobronchial metastasis: An epidemiologic and clinicopathologic study of 174 consecutive cases

Alessandro Marchioni, Anna Lasagni, Annalisa Busca, Alberto Cavazza, Lorenzo Agostini, Mario Migaldi, Paolo Corradini, Giulio Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Endobronchial metastases from extrapulmonary solid tumors are a rare event and currently available epidemiological and clinico-pathological data mainly derive from anecdotal case reports. Methods: A series of 174 consecutive cases of endobronchial metastases from extrathoracic solid tumors were collected over a period of 18 years. Immunohistochemistry was performed in 115 cases. Complete imaging features were available in 81 patients, and analysis of the latency period between primitive tumor diagnosis and occurrence of endobronchial metastasis was obtained. Results: Among all bronchoscopic examinations performed in the same period for malignancy, a mean of 5.6 cases per year consisted of endobronchial metastases (range 2-17 cases), with a statistically significant increase when comparing the periods 1992-2000 (65 cases, 37%) and 2001-2009 (109 cases, 63%) (p= 0.05). Overall, 4% of endobronchial biopsies for suspected malignancy disclosed an endobronchial metastasis from extrapulmonary tumor. Breast (52 cases, 30%), colorectal (42 cases, 24%), renal (14%), gastric (6%) and prostate (4.5%) cancers and melanoma (4.5%) were the most common metastatic neoplasms presenting as endobronchial mass. One-hundred fifty-four cases were identified after the primitive tumor diagnosis (metachronous cases, 89%), 11 cases were simultaneously evidenced in extrapulmonary and endobronchial sites (synchronous cases, 6%), while 9 occult metastatic cases (5%) first presented as endobronchial mass (anachronous cases). Overall, mean latency from extrapulmonary tumor diagnosis and endobronchial metastasis was 136 months (range, 1-300 months). The most frequent symptoms were dyspnea (23%), cough (15%) and haemoptysis (12%), while 26% of patients were totally asymptomatic. At radiology, 53% presented as multiple pulmonary nodules, while other cases presented as hilar and mediastinal mass, single peripheral nodule, atelectasis or pleural effusion. Conclusions: Endobronchial metastases from extrapulmonary tumors account for about 4% of all bronchoscopic biopsies performed for suspected malignancy and in 5% of the cases the metastasis is the first manifestation of the neoplasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-228
Number of pages7
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Bronchoscopy
  • Bronchus
  • Endobronchial
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung
  • Metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research
  • Medicine(all)

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