I am 31 years old and smoked around a pack-a-day off and on for eight years (probably a total of 5-6 years of smoking once I figure in various quit attempts over the past eight years). I am currently 25 days smoke free. Conventional wisdom says I am not old enough nor do I have enough pack-years under my belt to be at a super-high risk but I am still concerned.
However, I've had this dull ache in my chest for a while, around the pectoral area on my left side that comes and goes. It's not associated with deep breathing of coughing. When smoking, I would say on a pain scale it was about a 1 to 2 out of 10. Since quitting smoking, it's been reduced to more of a 0.5 out of 10. I can barely feel it but its still there. The arrival of this ache was one of my primary motivators to quit smoking.
I am wondering if I really need to be worried. Could it also either be a pulled muscle or acid reflux? The thing about most lung cancer symptoms, except for the coughing up blood, is there is so many other things they could be. I have a bad habit of eating too late at night and having to get up and take antacids early in the morning. What are your thoughts?
To answer your question in the thread title, as a lung cancer patient, I think you can rest assured that whatever your pain is, it isn't lung cancer, Chris.
I say that because:
1. If it were, your symptom wouldn't haven gotten less since you quit smoking. Cancer doesn't stop.
2. Very unlikely that your "lung pain" is caused by cancer.
I have had a proven cancer, with needle biopsy, and haven't had any pain whatsoever before during or after treatment, other than a sting of the anesthetic on my skin before they inserted a needle into my lung, and the minor pain of some air trapped between my lung and outside (pleuritic pain) afterward.
It sounds to me like you might have hit the nail on the head with late eating and possible acid reflux.
I am not a doctor, so can only speak from my personal experience and what I've read of other's experiences. Lung cancer pain usually involves the metastases, to bones etc., not the actual lungs themselves.
That all said, it can always be something serious. There are many illnesses, smoking-related and non-smoking related, that can affect the chest area and be very serious.
Any time you're concerned, the one to ask is your doc.