Very scared of pancoast tumor please any advice - 1272704

Sat, 01/23/2016 - 15:40

Hello, I would like to thank you for reading this, and i would appreciate any advice or suggestions you would have considering my situation. I am 25 years old female, with a 10 years of smoking history approximetly. 1 pack around 3 days average.. one year ago i developed pain in my back, paraller to spine below shoulder blade on the right side only. Pain was not so often but recently it seems that it comes and goes very often. I did not have any injury and pain is quite dull, its not the pain that bothers me but the discomfort and idea of the unknown. I will go to doctor next week, but i know x rays are not very reliable. I am also student and cant spend much money. I am alone in a foreign country now and i am literally terrified, i know lung cancer is not often at my age but what is this pain? why is it progressive?. Also i cant relate pain to anything, its just comes and goes, without relating to exercise or sleep or posture.. also i should menton that i dont have any cough.. I am terrified.. please share your experience and how it is possible to get this so young age? Thank you very much

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Dr West

I cannot explain why you're having this pain, but I would reassure you that a Pancoast tumor is astronomically unlikely. I think a Pancoast tumor may be the most over-internet diagnosed problem in the cancer world -- at least lung cancer. It is extremely common for people vanishingly unlikely to have a Pancoast tumor to scare themselves half to death by a Dr. Google diagnosis. It is overwhelmingly likely that you do NOT have a Pancoast tumor. And while a chest x-ray is a very old technology and CT is better, a chest x-ray would be sufficient to all but prove that it ISN'T a Pancoast tumor.

Good luck.
-Dr. West


Dear Dr, West, your words give me a lot of hope. I just can't think of anything that would be related to my pain that is localized exactly as it is described in this type of cancer desicription. I know doctor would recommend not to receive excessive radiation.. but i believe x chest ray may not capture.. I have two questions please. Why you think that considering my syptomps it is unlikely to have pancoast? and is it better to do MRI or CT test? I thank you so much for your time.. I am just terrified and everytime i have this pain..


Hi Sarah,

The symptoms and feared diagnosis you describe come up frequently here on GRACE, and as Dr. West states, this illustrates very well how dangerous it is to try to diagnose a condition based on internet research. It is very unlikely you have a pancoast tumor especially at your young age. Even with a smoking history, lung cancer takes many years to develop. Also, cancer pain doesn't tend to come and go, it is usually more constant and not a dull pain. As Dr. West stated, a negative chest x-ray would pretty much rule out your suggested but unlikely diagnosis.

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Thank you very much, my pain is not going during the last few days, especially during the night and i feel my arm a bit differently. I will go to see doctor tomorrow and we will see... I am scared to death. I feel something is not right with my right side..And also i have not smoked at all these last days, but not sure if its not late.. if it turns out nothing serious i will not ever smoke any cigarettes in my life



I find it interesting that this topic is so relevant to my life. You can see by my signature at the bottom of my posts that my husband had a pancoast tumor. Now that I think about it it could be my signature that creates so many search hits to this site about pancoast tumors. hm.

The part that isn't in my signature is that I get a lot of pain down my arm into my hands on an on and off basis that's associated with a disk in my spine. I can go months without pain then yaw there it is. I've learned where it comes from and how to mitigate it (usually yoga without putting weight in my hands or neck, like some of the usual standing and floor postures).

If your pain sounds like a pancoast tumor it could be that you've got problems with your brachial plexus. Perhaps a look into that with an ortho doc.

I hope you find a way to heal it.


Dear Janine,

thank you very much for your post. I think there is something with my disk or yes, defiently there is something that bothers the nerve. But it scares me that the pain is so progressive. I feel my right arm differently and feel i am less strong in my right arm. Tomorrow i have appointment with the doctor, but i can't spend time and money finding out what is wrong with me. More than pain it bothers me emotionally i lost the ability to study, sleep and simply enjoy the life. And at this point and from so much of reading, i don't know if these symptoms are even real or it is already paranoia.. I think i may had injury in the past, since i am sport instcructor, injury that i am not aware of.. but we will see...


Hello again, i would like to update you about doctor's opinion and hear yours as well. The doctor said that i most probably have a muscle strain and told me to use foam roller. I am a bit relieved but still i don't know. He said if pain will not go away in one week he will take x-rays. he doesn't want to do cat scan in this occasion for the sake of radiation.. what would you suggest? He does not think that it is even the nerve..


As Dr. West suggested in his post earlier in this thread, a negative chest x-ray would pretty much rule out a pancoast tumor. Although x-rays are not as high-resolution as CT scans and can miss small abnormalities, a pancoast tumor significant enough to cause the kind of symptoms you are experiencing would almost certainly appear on either.

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