Deep Shoulder, back and chest pain - 1294528

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 13:14

So I guess I’m just looking for a little feedback before I start scaring myself half to death.
As of about December I started feeling a dull pain just behind my left shoulder. A dull pain that seemed to delve pretty deep into my organs or top of my lung.
Side note: I’m a 36 year old female smoker who is desperately trying to quit but keeps failing.
I smoke a pack a week for the past 16 years.
As of about 3 months ago the deep scapula pain started to become worse and worse. It’s actually now painful straight thru to my chest.
When I smoke it only makes it way worse.
I would describe the pain to be almost that of a crushing feeling.
Obviously anytime I google these symptoms the only thing consistent with my search seems to be lung cancer and the fact that I can feel it really terrifies me as if I’m way too late to fix anything now.
Complete irony is that I’m a full time yoga instructor and extremely healthy in every other aspect of my life but this crazy smoking habit that I’m beyond embarrassed about.
I also need to mention that because I’m a yoga instructor I don’t make very much money and I work for myself soooooo I have very minimal insurance coverage.
The idea of me going completely broke performing a series of tests just depresses me.
Do my symptoms sound like something anyone is familiar with? Or am I doomed?
Maintaining my composure during all my searches has just driven me completely mad.
Any insight would help me so much.
Thank you

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Hi caramiapro,

It's natural to get scared with the type of eyebrow raising information that tends to be emphasized by doing google searches, especially for a person who experienced undiagnosed chronic shoulder pain that sounds, from what you have written, severe. It's important to know that there are almost no pain receptors in the lungs. That is one reason why lung cancer is usually diagnosed so late.

It's extremely unlikely that a person your age has lung cancer, even with a smoking history and shoulder pain. On the other hand you can ask a gp for their opinion and for an xray if you want to reassure yourself and also see what might be the source of the pain. For pain that has been going on that long, I would definitely recommend seeing a doctor.

Xrays are not that expensive. Depending on where you are you may even be able to get a low cost ct scan. A ct scan would definitely rule out lung cancer. Do you have any other symptoms?

Perhaps a gp can also help you get treatment and advise on quitting smoking. I used to be a smoker too and understand what a tough addiction it is. But it is possible to beat the addiction. If you are worried about the possibility of getting lung cancer then that is the best you can do.


Can’t thank you enough for such a quick response!
Your input definitely helps relieve some of my stress.
I’m going to make an appt and go see someone about this soon.
To be honest I’ve also been putting it off slightly because I’m nervous to hear any bad news. Prolonging it though is killing me.
I will post an update as soon as I nail down a dr and have a prognosis.
I don’t currently have any pain anywhere else so I was hopping it would just go away on it’s on but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Thank you again!!


Hopefully your doctor can help put your mind at ease and also get to the bottom of what is causing your pain. I've also been in the situation of having a deep shoulder pain and started to wonder if my cancer had come back. Dr. Google is not your friend in that situation and the constant pain is a reminder that something might be wrong. So I know the feeling you describe well. I also had to push myself to get it checked out. Grace regularly sees young people writing in about shoulder pain wondering if it is cancer, so you are not alone.

I went to my doctor and got a thorough examination of the shoulder, as well as some xrays. They came back negative for any obvious cancer, which was reassuring. After a few massages over the span of a month I started to feel much better and the pain is almost completely gone. I'm due for my regular ct scan in July.

If the pain comes back I'll go in for some more massages.

Hopefully one day there will be blood tests to diagnose cancer. This would help put a lot of people's minds at ease.


Hi caramiapro,

I would echo what onthemark has said. At your age, it is extremely unlikely that you have lung cancer which, even with a significant smoking history, takes many years to develop. If you did, the pain in your shoulder would likely be accompanied by other systems such as shortness of breath or cough. An x-ray would probably help discount the possibility of lung cancer, and a negative CT scan would essentially rule it out. In my eight years as a GRACE forum moderator, we have had many members, similar in age and symptoms, post the same questions you ask, and I can't recall anyone who has returned to state that he or she has been diagnosed with lung cancer, after getting negative scan results.

On the other hand, it would be great if you can find whatever help you need to quit smoking. Even after many years of smoking, the risk of developing lung cancer declines rapidly once you quit.

Good luck with quitting, and I hope a visit to your doctor can help explain your pain and lead to a therapy which will resolve it.

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