What do the symptoms of pancoast tumour feel like in real life?



I've trawled through the website and seen many concerned threads of people who thought they had Pancoast cancer.

I was just wondering what the symptoms are in real life?

E.g. With the shoulder pain/upper back pain cause by Pancoast, are there spots in the back that ache like trigger points or is there no pain in the muscles at all?

When diagnosed with Horner syndrome, did you have all of the symptoms of drooping eyelids, smaller pupils and lack of sweat or was it only a smaller pupil for instance?

I know I'm probably another victim of Dr Google (30 year male, non-smoker), but my upper back pain has been getting progressively worse, even after seeing a chiropractor. The pain is a specific spot right next to the shoulder blade, but I also have quite sevre rotator cuff pain too which seems to radiate down the arm and causes weakness and sometimes tingling/trembling.

I've also recently had my left eye start to twitch and my left pupil looks a little smaller than my right. 

I just wondered if the aches of Pancoast are the same muscular pains you get when you poke and prod around your back?

JanineT GRACE …
Posts: 613
GRACE Community Outreach Team

Hi Tronique,  I can't say if you do or don't have a pancoast tumor but it sounds like there are a dozen other reasons you're having your symptoms and several reasons you don't have a pancoast tumor.  This is a good thread on the subject.  For some reason, we have lots of people who get the wrong impression about shoulder pain and end up here. 

Best of luck,


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.

dr. weiss
Posts: 206

While Pancoast tumor is on the long list of things that can cause shoulder and back pain, it's rather far down that list in a young never smoker.  As a general principal, primary care physicians treat new musculoskeletal pain with conservative maneuvers (like ice/heat, physical therapy, advil).  However, if any symptom does not get better or gets worse, the best doctors then ask, "what else?" and evaluate further (for example, with imaging).  In general, it is a good idea to see one's primary care doctor for new pain and symptoms.