Cervicobrachialgia and pancoast tumor: value of standard anteroposterior cervical radiographs in early diagnosis.
Ten patients diagnosed with Pancoast tumor were studied retrospectively. The definitive diagnosis was made between 2 and 24 months after the onset of pain. Pain localization was hard to pinpoint; some patients reported pain in four different sites (neck, shoulder, arm, and scapula). Five patients had previously been diagnosed with degenerative, inflammatory, or infectious diseases of the cervical spine or shoulder. In the remaining five patients, the diagnosis was made during the first clinical visit. In three patients, an orthopedic surgeon made the diagnosis by viewing a standard anteroposterior (AP) cervical radiograph. The radiographic evidence arousing suspicion of a Pancoast tumor was the lack of pulmonary air at the top of the affected lung. Furthermore, a parallel study was conducted on 100 consecutive patients seeking treatment for neck pain. By examining the AP radiographs of their cervical spines, the third rib and the top of both lungs were observed in all cases. This study stresses the value of standard AP cervical radiographs in the diagnosis of Pancoast tumor.