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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lung Cancer

Question: Pain in chest bone for 3 months

 elo* - Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:11 am

i'm 20 years old male. I've had a mild pain in the middle chest bone for about 3 months. Sometimes i would hear a cracking sound when i move. The pain only occurs when i twist my body to a certain position. Im not a heavy smoker but i have been smoking on/off for about 1 and 1/2 year.
I went to a doctor and he said said my lung is clear and my heart is fine and he also said that it is probably caused by inflammtion, so i didnt need an x-ray. He told me the pain will go away soon. But i'm still having the pain. Could it be lung cancer eventhough he said i have clear lungs? I have a little bit of coughing in the past few days...but don't know if it is related. I don't have any other syptoms.
I will quit smoking and be healthy if i make it through this time.
Thank you.
 Angela Grunewald, RN - Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:26 pm

User avatar I think the quitting smoking is a wise idea. Now onto the lung cancer you are worried about. There are many signs and symptoms that play into a diagnosis of lung cancer. The actual diagnosis is done with a biopsy or a CT scan. Your MD does not see any signs of lung cancer otherwise he would run tests. The coughing you are experiencing could simply be due to the smoking. I also believe that the sternal pain you are experiencing could be directly related to the smoking as well. I would not be concerned about cancer at this time. If these symptoms do not subside with you quitting smoking I would follow up with your MD again. good luck to you and bravo for kicking the habit!
 Dr. A. De la Guerra - Sat Feb 04, 2006 8:13 pm

User avatar Hi Elo*,

I totally agree with Angela, although you have a smoking history, at your age, the probability of lung cancer is extremely remote, and rarely, cancer involving the chest or cancer that has spread from another part of the body can cause chest pain. Even more, when lung cancer causes pain it reveals an advanced stage of the tumor, and should be accompanied with other signs and symptoms. Thus, if the doctor said your lungs are clear and you don’t have other complains, I think you don’t have to worry about it. But if you continue smoking, in the near future you may be concern not only about lung cancer, but on cancer of the mouth, lips, throat, esophagus, stomach, anus, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, and leukemia, among others (tobacco smoke is responsible of at least 30% of all cancers).

As Angela pointed out, the chest pain you are experiencing could be related to the smoking, but if you are not a heavy smoker, your chest pain might have other origin.

Chest pain has a lot of causes, and they fall into two major categories: cardiac and non-cardiac causes. In young adults, without a history of previous cardiac illness, a non-cardiac problem is likely to be the origin of the pain. In this category the more frequent causes are musculoskeletal problems, gastrointestinal diseases (usually stomach acid reflux causing heartburn), and panic attacks, a form of anxiety (unexpected fear accompanied by chest pain, fast heartbeat, rapid breathing, sweating and shortness of breath).

In young healthy people, chest pain usually is caused by musculoskeletal problems of the chest wall (ribs, sternum, articulations, and muscles). The middle chest bone is the sternum, also called breastbone. The sternum articulates with the ribs 1 through 7 on either sides of the chest. When chest pain is felt along the edges of the breastbone, and appears when you take particular positions or make some movements, and is not related to exercise or gets worse with it, the most probable causes are costochondritis, Tietze’s syndrome, and benign chest wall pain.

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone, and is the most common cause of chest pain originating in the chest wall. Costochondritis causes your chest to hurt when you push on your sternum or on the ribs near your sternum. Most commonly the cause of costochondritis is classified as 'idiopathic,' or unknown. This means that there is no identifiable cause for the condition. Frequently costochondritis and Tietze’s syndrome are mistaken as being the same disease. Costochondritis typically presents with pain around the second to fifth costochondral joints, without swelling of the affected zone; in Tietze's syndrome there is swelling and pain of the articulation.

Benign chest wall pain is a transient and brief irritation of the pleura, the membrane that lines the lungs, and is very sensitive to pain. For unexplained causes, its transitory irritation can be a severe painful sensation. This condition has no medical significance at all.

The pain caused by these conditions usually improves within a few weeks. While some pain may persist, it is usually mild and only associated with some body positions or movements. All symptoms of pain should resolve within six months. If the pain gets worse or persists for a long time you should seek for medical attention.

Hope you find this information useful.


Alberto de la Guerra.

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