Beat The Heat SAVE 25% NOW
Medicine (MD/DO)
Lung Cancer
Pancoast Tumor

Master Pancoast Tumor with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Pancoast Tumor

Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Adenocarcinoma of the Lung
picmonic thumbnail
Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Lung
picmonic thumbnail
Small Cell (Oat Cell) Carcinoma
picmonic thumbnail
Large Cell Carcinoma
picmonic thumbnail
Bronchial Carcinoid Tumor

Pancoast Tumor

Pan-coast Tumor-guy
Pancoast tumor is an apical lung tumor that is most commonly a non-small lung cancer. Pancoast tumors can manifest with axillary and shoulder pain, hoarseness, horner syndrome, superior vena cava syndrome, sensorimotor deficits, and hemidiaphragmatic paralysis.
Apical Lung Tumor
Ape Lung Tumor-guy

Pancoast tumor is the name given to lung cancer that is located in the apex or superior sulcus. It commonly arises in the apical pleuropulmonary groove, superior to the first rib. Symptoms are typically due to mass effect on surrounding structures.

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer
Nun-small Lung Tumors

80-85% of Pancoast tumors are histologically non-small cell lung cancer. A squamous cell origin is the most predominant type of NSLC found. Other tumors can also present as Pancoast tumors such as lymphomas, thyroid carcinoma, metastatic lesions, etc.

Axillary or Shoulder Pain
Ax-armpit Pain-bolts and Shoulder Pain-bolts

55-60% of patients with a Pancoast tumor complain of severe pain in the shoulder which aggravates over time. It can be described as pain radiating toward the neck, axilla, anterior chest wall, or the medial part of the scapula along with the ulnar nerve distribution (C8-T1 nerve roots). Infiltration of the parietal pleura, endothoracic fascia, the bony skeleton of the apex, or brachial plexus can cause this pain.


Pancoast tumors can compress the recurrent laryngeal nerve which is responsible for innervating the muscles of the vocal apparatus. This compression can lead to hoarseness.

Horner Syndrome
Horny Pam

If a Pancoast tumor compresses the sympathetic chain or stellate ganglion, Horner syndrome (ptosis, miosis, and anhidrosis) can occur on the affected side. This is found in 30% of cases.

Superior Vena Cava Syndrome
Superior Vine Cave

Anteriorially, Pancoast tumor can compress brachiocephalic veins that anatomically continue to form the superior vena cava. Compression of the vena cava can lead to superior vena cava syndrome. This compression may cause venous engorgement of upper extremity and facial veins because blood cannot reach the heart. In severe cases, increased intracranial pressure can also occur.

Sensorimotor Deficits
Sensor-and-motor Broken

Brachial plexus involvement is reported in about 15% of Pancoast tumor cases. This can result in sensorimotor deficits such as weakness, muscle atrophy, and paresthesias.

Hemidiaphragm Paralysis
Half-diaphragm-trampoline on Wheelchair

Hemidiaphragmatic paralysis occurs as a result of phrenic nerve compression. The phrenic nerve originates from the C3-5 cervical nerves in the neck and traverses the thorax to innervate the diaphragm. Dyspnea and paradoxical motion of the affected diaphragm can be seen.


Take the Pancoast Tumor Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,910,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.