Lung cancer is one of the most frequent types of cancer in both men and women. Between 30-70% recur in the first 5 years. Approximately 5-15% of patients present recurrence at 5 years despite previous curative treatment. Pancoast syndrome occurs in only 1%–3% of all lung tumours, and rarely presents as the initial manifestation of late recurrence (15 years of disease freedom).
We present the case of a 57-year-old man with history of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, treated 15 years previously with right upper lobectomy, chemotherapy (cisplatin), and radiotherapy. He was referred to the neurology department due to 2-month history of an itching and burning sensation in the right arm and axillary hyperhidrosis. The neurological examination revealed mild right ptosis, miotic and non-reactive right pupil, amyotrophy of the trapezius and supraspinatus muscles, and hyperaesthesia in the suprascapular region.
An electromyoneurography study revealed alterations to the superior and middle trunks of the brachial plexus ( Fig. 1 ). A blood analysis detected hypercalcaemia (11 mg/dL) and hyponatraemia (117 mmol/L), which were asymptomatic. A head, neck, chest, and abdomen CT scan revealed irregular thickening of the apical-medial wall of the post-lobectomy cavity; the mass was polypoid and protruded to the lumen, involving soft tissue and eroding the adjacent bone structures. This finding is compatible with tumour infiltration to the T2–T3 intervertebral foramen ( Fig. 2 ). An MRI study of the brachial plexus revealed tumour infiltration in the right brachial plexus at the level of the scalene triangle, with involvement of the nerve roots due to perineural invasion and proximity to the intervertebral foramina, particularly at C7–T1 and C6–C7, with involvement of the C7, T1, T2, and T3 vertebral bodies ( Fig. 2 ). PET-CT revealed increased uptake in the cervical tumoural mass ( Fig. 2 ), with no signs of dissemination to other areas. The cytological study of a bronchial biopsy sample revealed malignant cells (recurrence of lung epidermoid carcinoma, stage IIIB). The patient was started on chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but died 4 months later due to pneumonia.