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Doctor insights on: Why Does Lung Cancer Cause Shoulder Pain

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Shoulder pain for months, a little breathless no other symptoms, always fear lung cancer is the cause, doesn't hurt when I rest, just when I'm mobile?

Shoulder pain for months, a little breathless no other symptoms, always fear lung cancer is the cause, doesn't hurt when I rest, just when I'm mobile?

DDx: The differential diagnosis of "shoulder pain" in a 33 year old is broad. Lung cancer would not be my first thought. Musculoskeletal disorders of the bones, tendons, or bursa are likely. This could also be referred pain from the gallbladder to the upper back. See your physician to a history and physical examination to help narrow the diagnoses. ...Read more

Dr. Barry Rosen
4,344 Doctors shared insights

Cancer (Definition)

Cancer is a group of diseases that is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth leading to invasion of surrounding tissues that spread to other parts of the body. Cancer can begin anywhere in the body and is usually related to one or more genetic mutations that allow normal cells to become malignant by interfering with internal cellular control mechanisms, such as programmed cell death or by preventing ...Read more


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What does shoulder pain with lung cancer feel like?

What does shoulder pain with lung cancer feel like?

Depends: A "pancoast tumor" is a type of lung cancer in the upper lungs that can initially present with shoulder pain. This type is pain is typically described as a deep pain, that is constant and not relieved by medications, exercise or therapy. A chest xray and/or ct scan is the appropriate radiographic test to evaluate this concern. ...Read more

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How are back and shoulder pain related to lung cancer?

How are back and shoulder pain related to lung cancer?

Pain and Cancer: Spread of the cancer to the chect wall could certainly be a cause. ...Read more

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What does shoulder pain associated with lung cancer feel like?

What does shoulder pain associated with lung cancer feel like?

See below: Depending on where and how advanced the cancer is, shoulder pain may be due to bone metastases (worse with movement) or due to pleural or phrenic nerve involvement (usually worse with deep breaths). Lung cancer by itself doesn't hurt. Hope this helps. ...Read more

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Could right shoulder pain possiby mean lung cancer?

Could right shoulder pain possiby mean lung cancer?

Possibly: Shoulder pain can be caused by a superior sulcus tumor, meaning a cancer that arises high up in the top of the lung. These tumors are uncommon, but can cause severe pain because of pressure on large nerves. There are however, more likely causes for shoulder pain than lung cancer and these should be ruled out first! ...Read more

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Having slight pain on top of right shoulder, sometimes into top of arm, heard shoulder pain could be from lung cancer, is there a way to tell?

Having slight pain on top of right shoulder, sometimes into top of arm, heard shoulder pain could be from lung cancer, is there a way to tell?

Superior Pulmonary: Sulcus tumor, aka pancoast tumor, canc do this. But not common. One investigates with a low tech chest x-ray to eliminate that possibility, and then focus on the likely traumatic, bursal, capsular, and rotator cuff complexities that are more likely. ...Read more

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Driving myself crazy with lung cancer fear age 33 smoker, gp says lungs are clear, slight back/shoulder pain & an on/off cough for months gp says sinus?

Cancer phobia: If your had bone pain from metastatic cancer, this would show up on your x-rays. You also realize that you're young to have lung cancer, and that your cough is very likely due to your smoking unless your physician has found another cause such as a tendency to asthma. This would be a great time to stop smoking because the next scare may be real & get with your physician about dealing with fear. ...Read more

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Clear CT scan of chest. Worried about lung cancer. Two x rays and one CT clear. But the CT was without contrast & shoulder pain persists. Contrast?

Clear CT scan of chest. Worried about lung cancer. Two x rays and one CT clear. But the CT was without contrast & shoulder pain persists. Contrast?

NO!: Lung cancer has been eliminated as a realistic diagnosis. Move on, be glad. There are rather more mundane causes for shoulder pain. See an orthopedic surgeon and find out what's going on with that shoulder. ...Read more

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Have upper back and rt shoulder pain, gets better with rest and massage, pains on touch. Chest CT w/o contrast normal, can this be lung cancer?

Have upper back and rt shoulder pain, gets better with rest and massage, pains on touch. Chest CT w/o contrast normal, can this be lung cancer?

Likely not cancer: In a 31 year old with shoulder pain, lung cancer is extremely unlikely. If it gets progressively worse over the next 2 weeks see your pcp. Still not likely to be cancer but it can be something your pcp can help you with. ...Read more

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Am loosing wt (5 kg in 3mnths) have upper back and shoulder pain 2 mnths which gets better with massage and rest, pains on touch. Chest CT is normal, am a smoker, can this be lung cancer?

Am loosing wt (5 kg in 3mnths) have upper back and shoulder pain 2 mnths which gets better with massage and rest, pains on touch. Chest CT is normal, am a smoker, can this be lung cancer?

Stop smoking: Pain that improves with massage and rest is not the most usual presentation of lung cancer; and your ct resulted normal. If you are legitimately worried about cancer, you should stop smoking. The presence of those symptoms do not (per se) rule out the possibility of cancer anyway. Consult your dr, and stop smoking using any method. Good luck. ...Read more

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Had sore muscles back, neck, shoulders for 5 months. Read online it could be a symptom of lung cancer esp because of shoulder ache. I don't smoke.

Had sore muscles back, neck, shoulders for 5 months. Read online it could be a symptom of lung cancer esp because of shoulder ache. I don't smoke.

See physician: Many other causes of symptoms besides lung cancer particularly in musculoskeletal system. You should seek physician for proper physical exam and possibly further imaging and blood testing. ...Read more

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Had very slight dry cough and shoulder pain for 12 weeks. 3 chest xrays and bloods fine. Respitory specialist not concerned about lung cancer worried?

No.: It would be very unlikely to be lung cancer given young age (35) and never-smoker. A chest ct is a better test at looking inside the lungs, but this is only needed if your lung specialist thinks so. ...Read more

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Tingling on and off near left shoulder blade. I googled it which one should never do! Lung cancer was even listed as a cause! I'm 32. No injury.?

Tingling on and off near left shoulder blade. I googled it which one should never do! Lung cancer was even listed as a cause! I'm 32. No injury.?

Need more info: A simple tingling near a shoulder blade may not be significant if it does not last. Without knowing more, it is difficult to give a better answer. If the tingling is related to an injury, it is most likely not related to cancer. ...Read more

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Can mid back pain specially under right shoulder blade pain (dull ache) cause chest discomfort? Right lung cancer?

Can mid back pain specially under right shoulder blade pain (dull ache) cause chest discomfort? Right lung cancer?

Back shoulder pain: At 26 years old. Pain in right shoulder area is most likely not related to lung cancer. Absent trauma, it can easily be referred pain from gallbladder disease. ...Read more

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Pain in right shoulder blade. Circular motion with head cause pain in neck when I go to the right. Heart attack, lung cancer or just muscle sore?

Pain in right shoulder blade. Circular motion with head cause pain in neck when I go to the right. Heart attack, lung cancer or just muscle sore?

No heart attack: The pain probably is due to joint or muscle and is not heart attack, so you should see your doctor for evaluation and treatment. ...Read more

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Can lung cancer display itching shoulder blades?

Can lung cancer display itching shoulder blades?

Probably not: Itching between the shoulder blades is not a symptom generally associated with lung cancer. ...Read more

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Have shoulder aches for a few months. Could it be lung cancer? Shoulder isn't painful. I'm a non smoker

Unlikely but: Given that you are a non-smoker it is unlikely that your pain is due to lung cancer. However, we definitely see lung cancer in never smokers. I advice that you see your primary care physician for a physical exam. Most likely it will be something else but it is better just to be seen by pcp. ...Read more

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Can pain on lowest part of shoulder blades be lung cancer? Both right and left side dull ache

Can pain on lowest part of shoulder blades be lung cancer? Both right and left side dull ache

Highly unlikely: At your age to have lung cancer. Also lung cancer would not usually present with bilateral shoulder blade pain. Most likely the pain is of musculoskeletal origin. Best to see your doctor for an evaluation and discussion of your concerns. ...Read more

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Dull ache pain on bottom of shoulder blade but internally. Deeper that just bottom of shoulder blade? Lung cancer or what!?

Lung cancer unlikely: Lung cancer will be extremely rare in 26 year old female, though not entirely impossible. I suggest you see a doctor in office to get a physical exam and have your shoulder pain evaluated. If persists or disabling, may get an imaging study. ...Read more

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I have feared lung cancer for over a year now due to daily shoulder/rib pain right sided, is it time to stop worrying and treat my anxieties?

I have feared lung cancer for over a year now due to daily shoulder/rib pain right sided, is it time to stop worrying and treat my anxieties?

Fear unhelpful: Age 33 is unusual for lung cancer. What you need to do is see your physician and get proper evaluation and make sure you live a healthy life. Don't smoke, don't use tobacco, don't use e-cigs or inhaled combustibles. ...Read more

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I'm 32 smoker. Left shoulder blade pain it aches + twitches I've had it about a week onand off but last 2 days constant. Worried lung cancer?

I'm 32 smoker. Left shoulder blade pain it aches + twitches I've had it about a week onand off but last 2 days constant. Worried lung cancer?

Tic: Lung cancer is painless. So that's not it. You are describing an nervous tic that has more to do with fear than fact. If you can consider cessation-that would be good but it will not stop your apprehension for at least 5 years. Consider Yoga, or some other calming activity. Exercise helps almost everything. Be sure it is safe for you and the go for it! ...Read more

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I've been having dull pain (like I need to pop back) in left shoulder blade when walking or not slouching. Is this lung cancer, angina or neither?

Likely neither,,: Lung cancer is highly unlikely at your age, and angina is usually a more intense pain that often has dyspnea or shortness of breath with it and usually comes with exertion. Your obesity and likely your sitting and posture habits might have more to do with this. It'd be wise to see your doctor about an exercise plan and possibly posture exercises along with a general exam. Good luck. ...Read more

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Chances of lung cancer? -shoulder, upper back pain and sometimes a mild pain when I take a deep breath (left side)

Average: What you are describing does not raise specific concern for lung cancer and points more to chest wall irritation which can be from muscle strain, sometimes viral infection or exposure to inhaled irritants. Smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer, and anyone over the age of 55 who has been smoking for at least 30 years (varies by amount) benefits from routine lung cancer screening ...Read more

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I'm a smoker for 15 years I'm 30 years old I have upper back pain on my shoulder blades and neck pain can it be lung cancer?

I'm a smoker for 15 years I'm 30 years old I have upper back pain on my shoulder blades and neck pain can it be lung cancer?

Sounds muscular, but: I would still see your PCP to discuss cancer screening possibilities, have a full physical, and discuss smoking cessation options. The sooner you quit, the lower your chances of cancer, and the more likely your lungs will return to pre-smoking health! Good luck ...Read more

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I have back pain around my shoulder blade and have slight shortness of breath. I'm a 36 year old occasional smoker. Could I have lung cancer?

Certainly is a: Possibility but there are also a number of other things that could give you these symptoms that are much less serious. The only way to know for certain is to have a health care professional evaluate you. Make an appointment today to get checked out. ...Read more

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Lung cancer at 18 year olds? For the past two years I had a sore back/shoulder (mild), shallow breathing, a weaker voice + diagnosed with asthma

Lung cancer at 18 year olds? For the past two years I had a sore back/shoulder (mild), shallow breathing, a weaker voice + diagnosed with asthma

Stop smoking: That is quite a jump from asthma to cancer. Our brain thinks the worse but actually asthma can contribute to all of the reported symptoms. Treat the asthma symptoms under doctors care, find a way to stop smoking even with therapy, there are many ways. Also ask for x-ray if worry persists, lung changes would be evident. Blood work as well. Take care! ...Read more

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Pain on touch on rt shoulder blade and when I bend my neck ~ 2 months. Chest CT clear, seldom pain in rt shoulder also. Am a smoker, lung cancer?

Pain on touch on rt shoulder blade and when I bend my neck ~ 2 months. Chest CT clear, seldom pain in rt shoulder also. Am a smoker, lung cancer?

Not likely: Not likely lung cancer. Sounds like muscle-skeletal pain, ie muscle sprain. If it persists for a few weeks then it warrants a doctor visit. Your ct scan is normal so this is less likely lung cancer. Lung cancer doesn't make you hurt upon touch. Smokers have a 20 fold risk of getting lung cancer. But that risk goes down significantly if they quit for about 5 years. ...Read more

Lung (Definition)

Deoxygenated blood enters the lungs from the right side of the heart and travels to the lungs. When you inspire, oxygen flows into the lungs, transverses the capilliares and attaches to hemoglobin down a gradient. At the same time, co2 diffuses into the capilaries and is expelled with exhalation. Oxygen rich blood then flows to the left side of the heart and into the ...Read more


Dr. Sheila Smith
9 Doctors shared insights

Shoulder Pain (Definition)

Shoulder pain is multifactorial. It can be from bone issues -- like arthritis. It can be from muscle tendon issues -- like a torn rotator cuff, or when a tendon is inflammed. It can also be from nerve issues -- like a bulging disk in your spine. Each diagnosis ...Read more