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Chest pain, front shoulder pain, normal cardiac tests, prilosec, maalox, GERD, excess saliva, non smoker. Lung cancer?

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Practicing since : 2002
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Posted Mon, 23 Apr 2012 in Cancer
Follow-up: Chest pain, front shoulder pain, normal cardiac tests, prilosec, maalox, GERD, excess saliva, non smoker. Lung cancer? 1 hour later
I have a question for you regarding some chest and front shoulder pain I have been having recently. I have been through a stress-echo test to rule out any heart related issues. It came back normal so cardiac does not seem to be the issue.

The chest pain that I was experiencing seemed to move around my chest from the center to the left and right side. The doctor put me on Prilosec and maalox, because he thought I was having GERD symptoms. It has seemed to help with some of the symptoms. It has cut done on some of the pains and has reduced my belching. I have noticed more saliva in the back of my throat and also feel like I have to continue to swallow an hour or so after I eat. So GERD might be part of my problem.

However I am hung up on the fact that the pains that I am feeling are related to some kind of lung cancer. When I look on line I see that chest and shoulder pain is a symtoms of lung cancer. The pain I am having in my left shoulder area isn't always there and it is located in the front of my shoulder where it is connected to the arm. If I tilt my head to the right it intensifies the pain. Breathing in and out does not intensify it. I have never smoked.

I am an avid jogger and I took off a week and just started back up and the pain has came back after my last two runs. So maybe its tied to that. Had a chest x-ray from my cardiac check and they didn't see anything.

Just want to make sure that these pains are not related to lung cancer. What would chest pain and shoulder pain from lung cancer feel like.


Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 10 hours later
Hello and thanks for the query.

Let me reassure you to start that the pain you are describing as well as the discomfort does not sound at all symptomatic of any kind of malignancy - including lung cancer.

I treat lung cancer patients all the time and I can say with conviction that I am confident you have no lung cancer whatsoever.

Your symptoms seem to be exacerbated by positional changes and sounds much more like a musculoskeletal pain of musculoskeletal origin.

What I mean by this is that your symptoms come more from the muscles, bones and joints rather than from some kind of underlying disease process.

Yes, reflux can mimic some of these symptoms and you truly may have a degree of that going on.

The remainder of your symptoms however speak more to something musculoskeletal as I mentioned earlier.

I am very glad to see that you jog regularly. Congratulations on that and I hope you continue to do so for as long as you are able.

One consideration is that you suffered from a viral illness and this set off a bit of systemic inflammation which created these sensations of joint pains, sensitivity and discomfort.

Generally if that occurs it takes a number of weeks to clear.

Also, mild arthritis could explain some of the symptoms as this can occur in shoulders, knees and even the chest wall.

You have had an extensive cardiac workup which rules out cardiac dysfunction as a cause which is also reassuring.

Chest and shoulder pain or bone pain in general related to lung cancer more commonly occurs in a setting of extensive and metastatic disease.

These patients are profoundly ill with severe respiratory compromise and weakness.

Try to keep in your mind that you are no where near to this kind of health status and have very low risk for developing lung cancer let alone an extensively metastatic case.

A chest x-ray would have showed not only something in the lung but also destructive lesions in the bones - again you have neither of these.

I thank you again for the query and hope my answer has served to be adequate and informative. Should you have additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chest pain, front shoulder pain, normal cardiac tests, prilosec, maalox, GERD, excess saliva, non smoker. Lung cancer? 8 hours later
Thank you for your follow up it is reassuring. A couple more quick comments/questions. If the x-ray I had done was done in the emergency room when i was having chest pains would they have been looking for the things that you mention?

Also you are saying that the pain that I get in my shoulder would be pain that would be there in more advanced stages of disease and it would be more constant in nature. Also the fact that I can move around and intensify the pain makes it sound less likely. Also are early signs of lung cancer generally assoicated with reporatory issues?

Sorry about question just concerned and I need to move past this.

Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 51 minutes later
Hello and thanks for your followup.

Regarding the chest x-ray, radiologists are highly trained to look for any subtle change on an x-ray study regardless of why the test was ordered. If they saw anything suspicious they would have commented on it and recommended further studies. This is the common practice of radiology in the clinical setting.

Regarding your shoulder pain - again it's not related to any kind of cancer in your case. In a case of advanced cancer, if it spreads to the bones, it can cause such things as shoulder and back pain which becomes almost unbearable and excruciating.

You are correct - early signs of lung cancer are usually respiratory and commonly include coughing up blood.

Please don't apologize for asking questions here - this is the precise reason we are here for you and that is to answer your concerns no matter how seemingly small.

I thank you again for submitting your concern to us. I am available should you have any additional questions as well.


Dr. Galamaga

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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