Pancoast tumor 35 year old female

Sun, 11/15/2020 - 12:16

About 3 years ago a friend was massaging my back n I went to school for massage therapy so I know how to massage under the shoulder blades so I was walking my friend through it so they can massage under my shoulder blades cuz on my right side it was hurting my friend felt what we thought was a knot under my shoulder blade.

3 years later the knot is still there, bigger and causing much more pain. I've had a cough but just chalked it up to it being just a smoker's cough. 

I'm 35 and have been smoking since I was 12 or 13. At 15 I started using hard drugs & smoking was how I used. 

The pain is getting much worse but the mass under my right shoulder blade feels so much better when its massaged. I feel like my health is now quickly deteriorating. 

My right eyelid has started twitching, I wake up with my right hand numb tingling and sometimes swollen. The lymph node on my left side neck is constantly swollen.

I googled my symtoms and that's when I found out about the pancoast tumor. 



Jim C Forum Mo…

Hi Ohcolleen23,


Welcome to GRACE. I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain and other symptoms, and that your Google search results have you so concerned. However, there are some factors that make a pancoast tumor fairly unlikely in your situation. First, lung cancer tends to take many years to develop, as it is the result of a long series of genetic abnormalities. As a result, lung cancer does not occur frequently among patients in their 30s.


Also, though your pain is increasing and that's typical for lung cancer, relief via massage is not.


In any event, the first step is to consult with your primary physician. A pancoast tumor may appear on an xray, and would certainly show on a chest CT, if your doctor feels it is warranted.


I hope that you can be seen soon, and that a less worrisome, and easily treatable, cause can be found for your symptoms. 


Jim C Forum Moderator 


JanineT Forum …

I see Jim just posted.  I'll probably be echoing him in a lot more words :)





Hi and welcome to Grace.  I'm sorry you're having so much pain and hope it's a much easier problem to fix or manage than a pancoast tumor.  Before I explain some of the reasons why this is most probably not a pancoast tumor I would suggest seeing a doctor about it.  They will look to the most probable causes first which are orthopecdic in nature.  For example, I am typing this with a half numb and tingling hand because I've not been doing my exersises that keep the pathways from my spine to my hand open. 


You are very young to have lung cancer from smoking because it takes many years to develop the mutation burden that causes smoking related lung cancer.  However, it sounds like you've pushed the limits of hazardous smoking that can cause several long term issues with internal organs including lungs.  Again, you have good reason to seek guidance from a physician, whether that leads you to an oncologist or physical therapist or yoga instructor, good science is a good guide.


Pancoast tumors usually proceed quicker than 3 years and would make the cancer a very unusual slow growing (indolent) cancer.  "It happens but it's not likely", is a term that fits often becasue cancer can and does do anything.


Coughing isn't usually a symptom of a pancoast tumor itself because much of their initial damage happens in the chestwall not so much the lungs (it's why they are often caught before spreading or causing a cough).  

Eye twitching isn't a symptom of horners syndrome.


I would really look at the more obvious causes of your shoulder issue, it's where you're likely to find the answer and the logical way a doctor will go about helping.


We get a lot of posts like yours.  People that have skeletal problems with their upper back, they google and find similar symptoms in pancoast tumors, then they find us because Dr. West has written what I think are still the most detailed and understandable articles on the subject of pancoast tumors.  I know because my husband had a pancoast tumor and I found West's articles in 2009 and never left.:)  Today my husband is alive, beat up from the dam tumor but happy and living life.  And don't get me wrong, I find google and the net has brought the world of knowledge right to my fingertips.  I'm glad to share info, and always asking myself how what I read should be digested.   BTW, no one ever comes back to update us on their pancoast scare.  Would you? 


Best of luck,





Yes I'm 35 and have been smoking cigarettes for 22 of my 35 years here on earth. 

20 years I've spent smoking a meth pipe.... The massage helps with the pressure on my muscles & nerves.... the pain never goes away it's just a pressure release on the surrounding nerves & muscles.

So really what my question here is is it possible to feel the Pancoast tumor underneath the shoulder blade with your hand would it feel like a knot underneath the shoulder blade? 

I don't plan on seeking any treatment I guess I have to get to the diagnosis to find out if that's really what's going on but I'm almost positive that that's what it is. how long will it take to die if I remain untreated.

JanineT Forum …

I hope it doesn't appear we didn't read and address your original post.  A pancoast tumor wouldn't normally be felt with your hand.  It could cause inflamaton, muscle tension that could cause what feels like knots.  I can't tell you what's going on but like we said above a chest Xray may show a pancoast tumor and a chest CT would certainly see it but a biopsy is the only way to say for sure if a nodule is cancer or not.  It's a mistake to assume you have cancer because you have shoulder problems, it's hugely more likely it's not cancer.  But I understand your worry and seeing a physician is the only way you're going to know for sure.  The rate of growth for lung cancer varies greatly and depends on the individual case.  But on average life expectancey without treatment is a few months to a year.  It depends on stage and rate of growth.