Woman dies 25 days after arriving at A&E complaining of shoulder pain and never leaves

A WOMAN who went to an hospital with shoulder pain tragically died just a few weeks later after receiving a shocking diagnosis.

The unnamed 76-year-old first said she experienced pain in her left shoulder, forearm, and elbow several weeks before seeking medical help. 

Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in Britain and has just a five year survival rate

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Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in Britain and has just a five year survival rateCredit: Getty
A CT scan of cancer found in the patient's left lung (in red circle)

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A CT scan of cancer found in the patient’s left lung (in red circle)Credit: Cureus
A CT scan of the patient's spine where a cancerous growth had started to form which medics believed was causing the shoulder pain (in red circle)

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A CT scan of the patient’s spine where a cancerous growth had started to form which medics believed was causing the shoulder pain (in red circle)Credit: Cureus

Soon after, she developed a similar pain on her right side, which medics from the St. Michael Medical Center Newark, in the US described in a report published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science.

According to the report, she denied experience any recent trauma that could explain the pain, didn’t have any concerning vital signs and was not unwell.

However, a CT scan of a biopsy revealed she had a form of deadly lung cancer, despite not having any typical lung cancer symptoms such as a persistent cough or breathlessness.

The cancer, known as adenocarcinoma, was very advanced having spread from her lung to her spine, ribs and adrenal gland.

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Lung cancer is now the leading cause of cancer deaths in Britain and has just a five year survival rate, according to Cancer Research UK.

Doctors said the cancer hadn’t actually spread to the shoulder itself, but said it was likely the pain came from one of the cancerous lesions in her spine.

Adenocarcinoma is a common type of lung cancer which starts in the mucus making gland cells in the lining of your airways.

Nearly 40 per cent of people who develop lung cancer will have adenocarcinomas, most of whom will also be smokers.

However, it is also the most common lung cancer found among people who don’t smoke.

Survival rates for adenocarcinoma are bleak but like with all cancers, the early you catch it, the better.

According to one Turkish study, the survival rate for those who develop lung adenocarcinoma is eight per cent – even with treatment.

The woman in this case was an ex-smoker who had smoked the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes a day for five years.

Sadly, this meant she didn’t meet the criteria to be screened for lung cancer in the US, according to the report. 

What are the different stages of lung cancer?

The stage of a cancer tells you how big it is and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage can help your doctor decide which treatment you need.

Stage 1: Cancer is found in the lung, but it has not spread outside the lung.
Stage 2: Cancer is found in the lung and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3: Cancer is in the lung and lymph nodes in the middle of the chest.
Stage 3A: Cancer is found in lymph nodes, but only on the same side of the chest where cancer first started growing.
Stage 3B: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes on the opposite side of the chest or to lymph nodes above the collarbone.
Stage 4: Cancer has spread to both lungs, into the area around the lungs, or to distant organs

Only adults aged between 50 and 80 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 20 years and currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years, are eligible for screening, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force.

There is currently no national screening programme for lung cancer in the UK.

But over the past few years there has been discussions in Government over whether it’s possible to reduce the number of lung cancer deaths through targeted lung screening.  

Medics said the patient died after just 25 days due to “drastic progression of lung adenocarcinoma metastases.”

The treatment for lung cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread at diagnosis.

Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.

The woman in the case report was hospitalised, treated with steroids and radiotherapy and then moved to a hospice.

The doctors said that lung adenocarcinoma often gets diagnosed at a very late stage.

This is why is why so few people survive as treatment is given too late to be effective.

Many people who have the disease don’t present with typical lung cancer symptoms, meaning medics don’t initially consider testing for the disease.

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There are around 167,000 cancer deaths in the UK every year, which means nearly 460 people die of the disease each day.

According to the World Health Organisation the three cancers that killed the most people worldwide in 2020 were lung, colorectal and liver cancer.

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