Pancoast Tumour


Pancoast Tumour is a primary bronchogenic carcinoma which arises in the apex of the lung at the superior pulmonary sulcus.

Pancoast tumours most commonly demonstrate histology of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – historically usually squamous cell carcinoma, but now more commonly adenocarcinoma.

Pancoast tumours account for 3-5% of all bronchogenic carcinomas. The neoplasm invades the surrounding soft tissues and 25% of tumours present with Pancoast syndrome

Typically treated with radiotherapy to downstage the tumor followed by local resection (complicated by proximity of brachial plexus and subclavian vessels). 5 year survival rate varies from 45% with complete resection to 0% with incomplete resection

Example Cases: CXR Case 064CXR Case 069Befuddler 025

Associated Persons

Alternative names


  • Pancoast was not the first to describe the neoplasm or the associated syndrome associated with local invasion. British surgeon Edward Selleck Hare (1812-1838) first described in 1838 Publio Ciuffini described lung apical tumor with local invasion in 1911.
  • Pancoast described three cases in 1924 and in 1932 described the tumor as a “superior pulmonary sulcus tumor“. Pancoast incorrectly described the tumors as ‘arsing from epitheleal rests of the 5th brachial cleft‘.
  • J. W. Tobías correctly surmised the tumor site of origin as bronchopulmonary tissue in his 1932 publication


  • Pancoast HK. Importance of careful roentgen-ray investigation of apical chest tumors. Journal of the American Medical Association, Chicago, 1924, 83: 1407. [JAMA text]
  • Pancoast HK. Superior pulmonary sulcus tumor. Tumor characterised by pain, Horner’s syndrome, destruction of bone and atrophy of hand muscles. Journal of the American Medical Association,1932, 99: 1391-1396. [JAMA text]
  • Hare, ES. Tumor involving certain nerves. London Medical Gazette, 2nd series, 1838/39, 1: 16-18.
  • Tobías, JW. Sindrome ápico-costo-vertebral doloroso por tumor apexiano. Su valor diagnóstico en el cáncer primitivo pulmonare. Revista medica Latino-americana, Buenos Aires, 1932, 17: 1522-1557.
  • The Pancoast Era – University of Pennsylvania [PDF Full text]
  • Arcasoy, SM. Jett, JR. Superior Pulmonary Sulcus Tumors and Pancoast’s Syndrome N Engl J Med 1997; 337:1370-1376 [Full Text] [PMID 9358132]
  • Weerakkody, Y. Pancoast tumour. Radiopaedia

eponymictionary CTA 2


medical etymology

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.