- A woman went to an emergency room with shoulder pain and was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
- Doctors said it had spread to her spine, ribs and adrenal gland, but not to her shoulder.
- The doctors believe that one of the tumors in her spine caused her shoulder pain.
A woman who went to an emergency room with shoulder pain was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to other parts of her body and died 25 days later, according to a report.
The unnamed 76-year-old first experienced pain in her left shoulder, forearm, and elbow several weeks before seeking help from the ER.
Shortly after, she developed a similar pain in her right side, doctors at the ER in Newark, New Jersey, wrote in the report published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science on Sept. 2.
Tests, including a CT scan and biopsy of her bone, revealed she had a cancer called an adenocarcinoma in the bottom of her left lung, which had spread to her spine, ribs and adrenal gland.
The woman’s cancer had not spread to her shoulder, but doctors believe her pain came from one of the cancerous lesions in her spine.
The woman used to smoke, but not enough to meet lung cancer screening criteria
In the US, adenocarcinoma makes up about 40 percent of lung cancer cases. Cigarette smoking is linked to this type of cancer, but it is also the most common cause of lung cancer in people who don’t smoke. The average age of diagnosis is 71 years, and it is rare before the age of 20.
The woman was an ex-smoker who had smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for five years, meaning she did not meet the criteria to be screened for lung cancer, according to the report.
According to the US Preventive Services Task Force, adults between the ages of 50 and 80 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 20 years and currently smoke, or have quit in the past 15 years, are eligible for screening.
The doctors wrote that her cancer had progressed because she didn’t have many symptoms, which delayed the diagnosis and made it more difficult to control.
Advanced lung cancer can cause coughing and breathing problems
According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, most people with lung adenocarcinoma do not develop symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
Symptoms as the condition progresses may include chest pain, a persistent cough, fatigue, coughing up blood, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and difficulty breathing.
A study of the lung cancer family to which adenocarcinomas belong, found that the most common symptoms of the disease were coughing and difficulty breathing. Most people with those symptoms were diagnosed with adenocarcinoma that had spread to other parts of the body, it said.
Treatment for lung cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread at diagnosis and may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.
The woman in the case report was hospitalized and treated with steroids and radiotherapy.
She died 25 days after arriving at the hospital due to the “drastic progression” of her cancer, the doctors wrote.
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