Pancoast cancer

Sun, 02/28/2021 - 11:03

Hi all,

I am 43 years old and have history of smoking for 15 years with 4 cigarettes per day.And I have stopped smoking from past one year.I am experiencing Pain in my right shoulder blade and chest pain from past 3 months.Recently pain is radiating to right hand too.Mild pain is always there which is disturbing me a lot.I went through internet about my symptoms and have a fear that I might have pancoast cancer.

I have got Chest x-ray,CT scan and MRI scan done. Scars of bilateral pleural thickening is noted and calci node if 3 mm on my right lung.Apart from this Nerve C4 C5 nerve is bit compressed.

Doctor says my report us normal.But still I feel that I might have pancoast and might be undiagnosed.Am not able to divert myself from the pain and pain reliever is not helping.Please suggest what should be done.I might have pancoast? 



Jim C Forum Mo…

Hi Irayya,


Welcome to GRACE. I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing this pain, and I understand your desire to pinpoint the cause and find a resolution. Although  you have a smoking history, it is not one which would be considered heavy. That history is quantified in "pack-years", which correspond to the number of packs smoked per day times the number of years smoked. Under that standard formula, your smoking history totals just 3 pack years. Although any cigarette use increases the chance of developing lung cancer, in most cases it is heavier use over a longer period of time which is the cause for the most concern.


Your smoking history aside, it is unlikely that you would have a pancoast tumor at your age. The mutations which eventually lead to lung cancer accumulate over many years; as a result most patients are diagnosed at more advanced ages. In addition, you've had a chest x-ray and CT, and it is extremely unlikely that such scans would not show a pancoast tumor, especially one which is causing significant symptoms. Finally, cancer pain does not tend to wax and wane over a period of time, but rather it worsens as the days pass. 


Since you've already had the scans which would be recommended if a pancoast tumor were suspected, I would suggest that you try not to worry about such a diagnosis, as it is very unlikely. I hope that further medical follow-up will reveal the true cause of your pain and lead to treatment which will resolve that pain. If you haven't already done so, a consultation with an orthopedic specialist might be a good next step.


Jim C Forum Moderator



Hello, i am 12 years old stage 3 nasopharyngeal carcinoma survivor, now I'm 19, no smoking history. i had severe pain in my right side of my upper chest, shoulder and ulnar nerve area, i also had pain in my right throat area, felt like my right neck's muscle got pulled and it pained. Now the chest pain has almost gone, it's getting better day by day, but i am still getting tingling sensation in my right ring finger and small finger. When i press my upper rib it hurts a bit. A really wierd thing is that i had this same pain 10 months ago, i was just anxious like i am now, i just got fine, and everything got normal what i experienced 10 month ago. I also had enlarged supraclavicular lymph node, 10 months ago, but now no swelling, the lymph node is normal again. I have no muscle loss, no horner syndrome, the pain isn't spreading to my shoulder, it's just beneath my upper chest only and it's getting better every day. Is it a pancoast tumor?

JanineT Forum …

Hi and welcome to Grace. I'm sorry you're in pain and understandably stressed about cancer. Pancoast tumor pain normally starts with pain in the shoulder area and travels from there but the original painful shoulder area would persist. Too, there is normally no chest pain unless coming from the original painful shoulder area. Cancer pain doesn't just go away on its own; even if there are some not so painful circumstances 6 months pain-free then a return doesn't sound like cancer. If possible see a doctor and hopefully find that you've got an ortho problem that can be solved with PT.
Congrats on being cancer free and take care.