This article describes the case history of a 59-year-old female patient who
sought advice for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and sounds but who
was actually diagnosed with a primary lung cancer with metastasis to the TMJ.
The patient had a history of TMJ pain and deflection in jaw movement that
progressively worsened over a few months and did not improve with the usual
standard of care treatment provided by an orofacial pain practitioner. Magnetic
resonance and computed tomography (CT) prescribed at a tertiary clinic showed
an osteolytic bone mass within the right TMJ condyle. The neoformation was
surgically removed and histologic assessment revealed it was a metastasis
of a silent lung carcinoma. Thorax CT confirmed the presence of a formation
within the apical segment of the right lung superior lobe. While this scenario of a
silent lung cancer metastasis to the TMJ condyle mimicking classical symptoms
of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is rare, it does indicate that the path to
differential diagnosis is often difficult in TMD and orofacial pain patients, and that
practitioners managing such patients should be aware of the variegate spectrum
of possible TMD-mimicking conditions to avoid dangerous diagnostic delays.