Pancoast Tumors

I know I am probably too young (25), but at what point should I see a doctor. I have had back pains near my shoulder blade for a few months and I recently woke up with a shoulder pain that is not necessarily constant but is not due to any physical activity. I have been smoking JUUL for almost 4/5 years now and had 3 years of heavy tobacco use prior to switching. I have also been getting pretty bad shortness of breath at night for the past few weeks or so making it hard for me to fall asleep (I will be close to falling asleep than I will feel like I am gasping for air and I will need to sit up, once I do fall asleep I generally sleep through the night). I understand that I am young but the symptoms seem to fit me.

JanineT GRACE …
Posts: 633
GRACE Community Outreach Team

Hi too young,  Welcome to Grace.  I'm sorry you're worried you might have cancer but from what you said it doesn't sound much like a pancoast tumor.  Shortness of breath isn't one of the first symptoms unless it's the pain that takes your breath away and the pain would keep you from sleeping.  Debilitating is how the pain is described and what my husband experienced.  You are very young so not enough time to collect the number of mutations needed to produce most pancoast tumors, squamous cell.  However people with pinched nerves in the neck often wake up with pain as you describe, I too have had neck and arm issues most of my life.


We can't tell you when to see a doctor.  That's a call left up to you and your doctor.  I hope you find the culprit and a fix. 

All the best,


I joined GRACE as a caregiver for my husband who had a Pancoast tumor, NSCLC stage III in 2009. He had curative chemo/rads then it was believed he had a recurrence in the spine/oligometastasis that was radiated. He's 10 years out from treatment.

Posts: 147

GRACE Community Outreach Team

Hi too young,


I agree with Janine that at your age a pancoast tumor is very unlikey since it does take many years of cell mutation for cancer to develop, especially to the point at which symptoms are significant. 


In addition, over the course of several months, pain caused by cancer almost always increases significantly. 


Although we can't advise you whether or not to see a doctor, the fact that these symptoms have  continued for several months tends to suggest a medical consultation might help you pinpoint the cause and hopefully a solution. 


Jim C Forum Moderator