Earlier, Pancoast lung cancer was incurable, but thanks to the advancement in treatment, the five-year survival rate of patients with Pancoast lung cancer has been improving. On average, the five-year survival rate is around 30-50% but maybe as high as 90% if detected very early.
- The survival rate is often the highest among patients with a Pancoast tumor who
- Have undergone surgery that removes all visible traces of the tumor.
- Are diagnosed before cancer spreads to the lymph nodes.
- Receive radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both before or after their surgery.
- Do not present with advanced Pancoast-Tobias syndrome (a collection of symptoms that occur in later stages of cancer).
What is Pancoast lung cancer?
Pancoast tumors are a rare type of lung cancer that forms at the extreme top of either of the lungs. Due to their location at the top of the lung, there’s a high chance that cancer might attack the adjacent tissue and produce typical symptoms. Pancoast tumors can attack the following structures:
- Thoracic ribs (top ribs in the chest)
- Intercostal nerves (nerves that lie between adjacent pair of ribs)
- Brachial plexus (bundle of nerves close to the spinal cord that supply to the arms and legs)
- Adjacent ribs
- Blood vessels that supply blood to the arm
Risk factors of Pancoast tumors are similar to any lung cancer, which include:
What are the symptoms of Pancoast tumors?
Because Pancoast tumors occur at the top of the lungs, they do not exhibit typical symptoms of lung cancer, such as cough and chest pain. On the contrary, due to the invasion of the adjacent tissues, the initial symptom of a Pancoast tumor is usually a pain in the shoulders, shoulder blade (scapula), or both. Additional symptoms include:
- Pain radiating to the arm, elbow, and pinky and ring fingers
- Severe and persistent pain that may require narcotic pain medications
- The weakness of the arm, hand, and forearm
- Atrophy (muscle degeneration) of the arm, hand, and forearm
- Paresthesia of the arm, hand, and forearm characterized by a sensation of
- tingling, and
- Horner syndrome characterized by
- Paralysis of the lower half of the body in 25% of cases
- Edema in case of blood vessel compression
How does the physician diagnose Pancoast lung cancer?
There’s a chance of late diagnosis in Pancoast lung cancer because the top of the lungs may not be seen in the initial chest X-ray. Once the patient presents with symptoms, the tumor has already invaded the adjacent structures. Additionally, the symptoms of Pancoast lung cancer are similar to those of many nerve-related or muscle-related disorders. The physician may diagnose a Pancoast tumor using the following:
How to treat Pancoast lung cancer?
Treatment of Pancoast tumor depends on the stage of cancer, its exact position in the lung, and the overall health. Treatment options for Pancoast lung cancer include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Laser therapy
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
- Watchful waiting
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
- Chemoprevention: It involves the use of drugs, vitamins, or other substances to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Radiosensitizers: These are substances that assist in the easy destruction of tumor cells with radiation therapy.
- New combinations: New combinations of treatment are being studied in clinical trials.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Can Pancoast Lung Cancer Be Cured? Related Articles
How Long Does Lung Cancer Take to Develop?The time taken for lung cancer to develop is variable. It takes several years for cancer to develop in the lungs. Early lung cancer does not alert obvious physical changes. Moreover, patients can live with lung cancer for many years before they show any signs or symptoms.
Is Shingles Contagious?Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles symptoms and signs include skin burning, numbness, and tingling along with a painful red, blistering rash. Shingles is contagious until all of the blisters have crusted over.
Is There a Screening Test for Lung Cancer?A screening test is generally performed as a preventative measure to detect a potential health problem or disease in a person who is yet to have signs or symptoms. There is a screening test for lung cancer, however it is only deemed necessary for people at risk for lung cancer.
Lorbrena (lorlatinib)Lorbrena (lorlatinib) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The most common side effects of Lorbrena include swelling in your arms, legs, hands and feet (edema), numbness and tingling feeling in your joints or arms and legs (peripheral neuropathy), difficulty thinking or confusion, difficulty breathing, tiredness (fatigue), weight gain, pain in your joints, changes in mood, feeling sad or anxious, and diarrhea.
Lung CancerLung cancer kills more men and women than any other form of cancer. Eight out of 10 lung cancers are due to tobacco smoke. Lung cancers are classified as either small-cell or non-small-cell lung cancers.
Lung Cancer Myths/FactsLearn about lung cancer myths and facts. Explore how cigar smoke, menthol, and pollution can increase your risk of lung cancer and learn what to avoid.
Lung Cancer PictureCancer of the lung, like all cancers, results from an abnormality in the body's basic unit of life, the cell. See a picture of Lung Cancer and learn more about the health topic.
Lung Cancer SlideshowLearn about lung cancer early warning signs, symptoms and treatments. What causes stage IV lung cancer? Get more information on small cell lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and the diagnosis of lung cancer stages.
Know Your Lung Cancer Facts QuizLung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide. Get the facts about lung cancer with this quiz.
Small Cell Lung Cancer vs. Non-Small Cell Lung CancerNon-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) consist of large cell carcinomas, adenocarcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) usually starts in the bronchi and typically appears in those who smoke. SCLC and NSCLC are staged in different manners, and SCLC tends to metastasize more quickly than NSCLC. Signs and symptoms of NSCLC and SCLC include shortness of breath, coughing up blood, recurring lung infections, and chest pain. Treatment may involve radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Retevmo (selpercatinib)Retevmo (selpercatinib) is a prescription medicine that is used to treat certain cancers caused by abnormal RET genes in adults with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and adults and children 12 years of age and older with advanced medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), advanced thyroid cancer, or thyroid cancer. The most common side effects of Retevmo include increased levels of liver enzymes, increased blood sugar levels, decrease in white blood cell count, decreased protein levels (albumin) in the blood, decreased levels of calcium in the blood, dry mouth, diarrhea, increased creatinine (kidney function test), high blood pressure, and others.
Tabrecta (capmatinib)Tabrecta (capmatinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with a kind of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Serious side effects of Tabrecta include lung, breathing, or liver problems.
Tagrisso (osimertinib)Tagrisso (osimertinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has certain abnormal epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene(s). Tagrisso may cause serious side effects, including lung problems, heart problems, severe blistering or peeling of skin, and target lesions.
Tepmetko (tepotinib)Tepmetko (tepotinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic), and whose tumors have an abnormal mesenchymal epithelial transition (MET) gene. Serious side effects of Tepmetko include liver problems. Common side effects include swelling in your face or other parts of your body, tiredness, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, and shortness of breath.
Vizimpro (dacomitinib)Vizimpro (dacomitinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic). Serious side effects of Vizimpro include lung or breathing problems, diarrhea, and skin reactions.
What Are the Four Types of Lung Cancer?The four types of lung cancer are classified by what kind of cells the cancer affects and what the tumor cells look like under a microscope. Lung cancers can be small-cell or non-small cell, further classified as squamous cell carcinoma or adenocarcinoma.
What Is Usually the First Sign of Lung Cancer?Most often, lung cancer does not show any signs and symptoms until it has advanced to higher stages when it becomes difficult to treat. The initial signs and symptoms vary among patients but may include cough that remains unrelieved and gets worse over time, hemoptysis (coughing up blood) or reddish spit, chest pain that worsens on breathing or laughing, hoarseness of voice, weight loss, persistent chest pain, and frequent lung infections.
Will a Chest X-Ray Show Lung Cancer?When diagnosing lung cancer, chest X-rays do not provide a definitive diagnosis of lung cancers at an early stage (when they are more treatable). Until the lung cancer shows up on a chest X-ray, the tumor is often too far advanced to be cured. Often, many things seen on a chest X-ray turn out to be treatable problems or artifacts.