A number of cancers can affect the respiratory tract, but the most common are lymphoma in the nose, or adenocarcinoma affecting the nose or the lungs.
Tumours in the nose often cause progressive obstruction to the flow of air, and may result in progressively worse snorting/snoring noises during breathing. There may be sneezing and discharge from the nose, and as the disease progresses there will be difficulty in breathing.
Adenocarcinoma affecting the lungs can cause difficulty in breathing, coughing, or a mixture of the two – the cancer can sometimes spread to the bones in the toes and cause lameness (the so-called ‘lung-digit syndrome’).
For lung tumours, surgical removal may be possible if the disease is diagnosed early, and this may be combined with chemotherapy. However, by the time these tumours become apparent there has often been extensive spread within the chest.
For nasal tumours, generally radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy is likely to be the best treatment.