A Pancoast tumor, also called a pulmonary sulcus tumor or superior sulcus tumor, is a tumor of the pulmonary apex. It is a type of lung cancer defined primarily by its location situated at the top end of either the right or left lung. It typically spreads to nearby tissues such as the ribs and vertebrae. Most Pancoast tumors are non-small cell cancers.
The growing tumor can cause compression of a brachiocephalic vein, subclavian artery, phrenic nerve, recurrent laryngeal nerve, vagus nerve, or, characteristically, compression of a sympathetic ganglion resulting in a range of symptoms known as Horner’s syndrome.
Pancoast tumors are named for Henry Pancoast, a US radiologist, who described them in 1924 and 1932.
CT scan showing a Pancoast tumor (labeled as P, non-small cell lung carcinoma, right lung), from smoker woman of 47 years old.
CT image shows mass partly encasing left subclavian artery (arrow) at level of apex of left lung. Mass was confirmed to be squamous cell carcinoma of lung causing clinical symptoms of Pancoast syndrome.
Chest radiograph showing a Pancoast tumor (labeled as P, non-small cell lung carcinoma, right lung).