Pancoast cancer

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Pancoast cancer

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 Mod...
Jim C Forum Moderator's picture
Pancoast cancer

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