Where Do You Feel Lung Cancer Pain?

Reviewed on 4/23/2021

Lung Cancer Pain

In its early stages, lung cancer typically does not produce any signs and symptoms.
In its early stages, lung cancer typically does not produce any signs and symptoms.

In its early stages, lung cancer typically does not produce any signs and symptoms. However, if it does, you will experience coughing and wheezing that do not go away within three weeks. Lung cancer pain can be felt in the chest in later stages. It may be especially prominent while coughing or during exertion. You are also most likely to have shortness of breath as well.

Pain can be experienced in other places as well in certain types of lung cancer. For example, a Pancoast tumor is a type of lung cancer that can cause pain in your shoulder blade, upper back and arms. It grows in the upper lobe and spreads to your upper ribs and vertebrae in your spine. Respiratory symptoms are less likely to be experienced with this tumor.

Other signs and symptoms of lung cancer include

Less common signs and symptoms include

  • Curved, shiny nails and fatter fingertips (clubbing of nails): Hormone-like chemicals secreted by some lung tumors can cause blood and fluid to build up in the nails.
  • Abdominal pain, constipation and nausea: These may be because of hypercalcemia (high blood calcium levels) caused by lung cancer. Hypercalcemia may also lead to loss of appetite, increased urination and excessive thirst.
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, confusion and depression: This may be due to the stress of diagnosis or cancer affecting the immune system, its spread to the brain or hypercalcemia.
  • Newer headaches: This may be because of pooling of the blood in the superior vena cava due to pressure of a lung tumor. You can pass out or get newer headaches. Headaches may also be due to hypercalcemia from the tumor.
  • Dizziness: This may be due to lung cancer attacking your nervous system, anemia or a tumor pressing on the superior vena cava.
  • Bone pain and weakness: If lung cancer spreads to your bones, your bone can become sore and painful. They can become fragile, and you may feel weak.
  • Weight gain: Some lung tumors may produce a hormone known as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that causes fluid retention and weight gain.
  • Gynecomastia (swollen breasts in men): Some lung tumors can throw off your hormonal balance. This can cause your breasts to swell.
  • Hoarse voice: When lung cancer has spread to the laryngeal nerve, it can affect your vocal cords. This manifests as a hoarseness of voice.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat: Your heart rate may become rapid or lose its normal rhythm due to anemia and hypercalcemia. You may also get a heart attack or slip into a coma.
  • Swelling of the face or neck: You may develop a puffy face and neck due to the tumor pressing on the superior vena cava. The blood cannot go anywhere from the upper parts of your body. This leads to fluid buildup in your face, neck and arms.
  • Horner syndrome: A Pancoast lung tumor can affect the nerves that reach the eye from the brain and the face. This can cause a smaller pupil in one of your eyes with a droopy eyelid. You may also not sweat on one side of your face. This condition is known as Horner syndrome.
  • Trouble seeing: Lung cancer can turn your immune system against your nervous system and cause vision problems. This is called cancer-associated paraneoplastic syndrome (PNS).
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing: If cancer affects your nervous system, it could weaken your muscles so that you have trouble speaking or swallowing.

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References
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/280104-clinical

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html

Clinical manifestations of lung cancer. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-of-lung-cancer

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