Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To Your Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluid and fights infection.
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they are usually bigger than normal. But lymph nodes also get bigger if you have an infection. So you can’t be sure of the cause of a lump until your doctor has examined you and done some tests.
Tell you doctor if you find any lumps or swollen areas, particularly in your neck or armpits.
Pancoast Tumor Risk Factors
A risk factor is a characteristic or behavior that may increase the likelihood of developing a certain condition. The most common risk factor for Pancoast tumors is similar to that of other lung cancers: smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Thats because tobacco smoke enables carcinogens to enter the lungs, which can trigger cells to grow and divide rapidly. When a cluster of abnormal cells gathers in the lungs, a Pancoast tumor can form.
Pancoast tumors are also more commonly diagnosed in men and in people in their 50s. In the general medical community, research is still being conducted on why this is so.
Pancoast tumors can affect anyone, including individuals who do not have any known risk factors for this cancer. Still, people with one or more risk factors should be particularly mindful to seek care for symptoms and receive appropriate treatment.
What Does Back Pain Feel Like With Lung Cancer
When you have lung cancer, back pain feels like either a general muscle ache or sharp, like a pinched nerve. In some cases, patients may complain of pain on one side of their back that they believe might relate to the kidney area. Lung cancer patients who do feel back pain often perceive it very differently, and each will have their diverse and unique set of back pain experiences. If your back pain causes you enough discomfort, you should seek the advice of a medical professional who can provide an evaluation and diagnosis.
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Shortness Of Breath/exercise Intolerance
The second most common symptom of lung cancer in women is shortness of breath. During the early stages of the disease, the shortness of breath is not always obvious and can easily be dismissed as due to something else or overlooked altogether.
Early on, symptoms occur primarily with activity and may be noted only with more strenuous activity, such as walking up and down stairs or sprinting. Some people may look back at the time of diagnosis and realize that they had been modifying their activity level to adapt to the shortness of breath for some time.
Is Shoulder Pain A Sign Of Lung Cancer
Sharp shoulder or scapula pain are some of the most common symptoms of a Pancoast tumor, particularly in its early stages. The pain typically develops as the tumor impacts one or more of the nearby structures, such as the:
- Ulnar nerve, which runs from the side of the arm to the wrist
- Branchial plexus, the nerve fibers that run downward from the spine and into the shoulder and arm
- Parietal pleura, the highly sensitive outer layer of the membrane that lines the chest cavity.
- Endothoracic fascia, the fibrous tissue that separates the chest wall from the diaphragm and the pleura
Shoulder pain can be a symptom of other lung cancers besides Pancoast tumors, typically if a lung tumor presses against a particular nerve or if the cancer travels to the tissues or bones near the shoulder joint.
Its important to note that shoulder pain is far more likely to be caused by an orthopedic condition, such as osteoarthritis or a rotator cuff injury, than lung cancer. Nevertheless, shoulder pain that persists for more than a few days should be evaluated by a medical professional. Shoulder discomfort that is related to lung cancer may worsen at night, be present while resting or occur without impacting range of motion. Lung cancer that is not classified as a Pancoast tumor may also cause a hacking cough, shortness of breath and wheezing, among other respiratory symptoms.
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A Pain That Could Be A Sign Of Lung Cancer
Back pain is something we often blame on lifestyle or environmental factors. My office chair isnt quite right, I pulled my back lifting heavy shopping bags or, I must have slept in an awkward position. However, if you are experiencing back pain, it could be a sign of lung cancer.
Pain in the back, along with shoulder and neck pain, are all symptoms of lung cancer. Many people who are living with lung cancer will experience back pain at some point during their disease.
Our lungs are large, complex and vital organs that are protected by the rib cage. In some cases, lung cancer can inflame the lining of the lungs or, tumours can press on the spinal column causing pain in the back, shoulder, neck or side.
Often, we just accept back pain, but it can be debilitating having to deal with it every day. It is vital to get it checked out by your doctor to establish the real cause.
In most cases, your back pain wont be caused by lung cancer but for some people like Heather, it was a symptom of her stage 4 lung cancer.
Heather was diagnosed with lung cancer back in December 2015 after having pain in her back for some time. She had tried painkillers, muscle relaxant medication and even had regular appointments with a chiropractor. However, the pain persisted, and she knew it needed to be investigated.
The pain returned with a vengeance. I struggled to stand up, sit down, walk up and down stairs, or even carry my handbag!
Early Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
Most lung cancers don’t cause symptoms until the disease has advanced, in part because the lungs have few nerve endings. When lung cancer does cause signs in its early stages, they may vary from person to person but lung cancer symptoms commonly include:
- A new cough that is persistent or worsens, or a change in an existing chronic cough
- Cough that produces blood
Less common symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- Swelling in the face or neck
- Difficulty swallowing or pain while swallowing
- Changes in the appearance of fingers, called finger clubbing
Although most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than lung cancer, it’s important to see a doctor. Discovering lung cancer early may mean more treatment options are available.
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Help For Suicidal Thoughts
If you’re concerned about a loved one with cancer who appears to be depressed, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s also important to seek help if you find yourself having thoughts of suicide. If you or a loved one are having suicidal ideation, talk to your doctor or dial 988 to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect with a trained counselor.
The Link Between Shoulder Pain And Lung Cancer
People who get shoulder pain may worry about it being caused by lung cancer. While this is possible, its much more likely that your shoulder pain is caused by something like an injury, tendonitis, or arthritis. Your doctor can help you determine the cause of your pain.
Shoulder pain can be a symptom of lung cancer from early through late stages of the disease.
Read on to learn about the types of lung cancer that can cause shoulder pain.
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Types Of Lung Cancer In Women
The symptoms of lung cancer usually are determined by its location in the lungs. Symptoms depend on the type of lung cancer causing them, as well.
There are two major categories of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer : NSCLC is the most common type, accounting for roughly 85% of lung cancers. NSCLC includes different subtypes that have various characteristics.
- Small cell lung cancer : SCLC is less common than in the past, and accounts for roughly 10%15% of lung cancers. It is the type of lung cancer most strongly associated with smoking. Small cell lung cancers tend to grow near the large airways. Because of this, they tend to cause symptoms early such as a cough, coughing up blood, wheezing, and repeated respiratory tract infections.
A third category, carcinoid tumors, makes up 1%2% of lung tumors. These tumors are not associated with smoking and tend to occur in younger women. Many of these tumors are very slow-growing tumors.
Non-small cell lung cancers are, in turn, broken down into:
How Is Lung Cancer & Back Pain Related
Unexplained backache can be a sign of lung cancer. Not all the time, but sometimes. If lung cancer continues to grow and spread to the spine, it creates pressure on the backbone and spinal cord, causing pain and discomfort in the neck or upper, middle, or lower back. The pain may eventually spread to arms, legs, and buttocks.
Sudden limb weakness, which can occur due to cord compression numbness, weakness, or stiffness of back or neck and even generalized muscle cramp or sharp pain which feels like current can be an indicator of lung cancer-related pain.
So, it is in your best interest to consult a cancer doctor if you are suspecting your back pain may be related to lung cancer.
The expert guidance of specialists like Dr. Manish Singhal, the best lung cancer doctor in Delhi NCR, can help.
But, are there any red flags of back pain that can help you determine whether you should or shouldnt talk to a cancer specialist? Yes. And thats exactly what well discuss now.
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Types Of Spinal Tumors
A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the spinal column. These tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous . A cancerous tumor is composed of abnormal cells that continue to divide uncontrollably and have the potential to spread via the blood or lymphatic system.
There are 2 general types of spinal tumors:
- Primary tumors originate in the spinal column. While most primary tumors are noncancerous, some are cancerous.
- Secondary tumors, also called metastatic tumors, have spread to the spine from another part of the body. Metastatic tumors are cancerous. About 90% of diagnosed spinal tumors are metastatic.1,2
Metastatic spinal cord tumors develop when cancer cells from other parts of the body, such as the breast, kidney, or lung, migrate through the bloodstream and become lodged in the spine. Most metastatic spinal tumors occur in the thoracic spine.
Spinal tumors can also be classified by whether they are outside the spinal cord , within the spinal cords protective covering , or within the spinal cord itself .
‘my Back Pain Turned Out To Be Lung Cancer’
Samantha Mixon wants to raise awareness about the number one cancer killer of women.
Samantha Mixon was 33 in March 2012 when she began having headaches. Her doctor diagnosed them as migraines and prescribed pain pills. When she temporarily lost her vision twiceshe had no depth perception and saw swirly colorsER doctors at the hospital told her that her migraines were probably related to a sinus infection.
“They told me to take Mucinex. I could blow my nose 100 times it wasnt draining. Nothing was working,” says Samantha, a mother in St. Simons Island, Georgia. “I even got a nebulizer, because I felt like there was something in my chest.”
Five months later, in August 2012, the soreness in her back started. She thought shed pulled a muscle, and her doctor gave her muscle relaxants to help with the pain. None of the pills helped.
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Talking To Your Healthcare Provider About Pain
Healthcare providers use several terms to describe cancer-associated pain. Learning about these descriptions, as well as how to describe and rank your pain, will help you communicate with your healthcare provider so they can have a better grasp on how to best control your pain.
- Acute pain: Comes on rapidly. It may last only a few moments or go on for days at a time.
- Chronic pain: Ongoing usually lasts longer than six months.
- Breakthrough pain: Pain you feel despite treatments.
- Referred pain: Felt away from the actual source of the pain. Common with nerve pain.
- Phantom pain: Felt in a region of the body that isn’t there, such as in a leg or breast that’s been removed.
Providers may also ask you about the quality and nature of your pain.
|Quality and Nature of Pain|
|Difficulty falling asleep? Staying asleep?|
Where Are The Lungs Located On The Back
The lungs are located in the chest cavity between the heart and the spine.
They are a delicate yet vital organ of the respiratory system and are vulnerable to a range of illnesses.
The pair of spongy organs are lined by a thin membrane called the pleura, which helps protect and cushion the lungs.
They are housed inside the ribcage for protection, with the top of the lungs located just above the collarbones.
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Diagnosing Your Back Pain
Tell your doctor right away if your back starts to hurt. They’ll try to figure out the cause of your back pain to decide on the best treatments.
You may need to have tests that can help your doctor see the bones inside your back. These can include:
Your doctor may also want you to get a blood test to check your calcium levels. If they are higher than normal, it could be a cause of your pain.
Cancer Of The Skin And Tissue
Skin or tissue cancer such as melanoma may also cause lower back pain. When left undiagnosed and untreated, melanoma can spread and affect the area of the spine resulting in pain in the back. Symptoms that may go hand-in-hand with skin cancer are:
- Redness at the margin or border of the mole
- Mole changing its surface, becoming scaly, lumpy, or in some cases, bleeding
- An old sore that does not heal with interventions
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Managing Back Pain With Lung Cancer
Managing back pain related to lung cancer often starts with treating the lung cancer itself. If treatment does not relieve your acute pain, your oncologist or health care team may recommend other options such as over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers to help manage your discomfort.
As with any new or worsened symptoms, contact your health care team if you start experiencing back pain. Make sure to reach out if this pain is causing sleep disruptions or hindering your everyday life.
Treatment For Shoulder Pain From Lung Cancer
If your doctor thinks lung cancer may be causing your shoulder pain, they will begin the screening process by ordering imaging tests.
Theyll use a screening procedure such as a CT scan or a positron emission tomography scan to get an internal image of your lungs. This gives a clearer picture of any potentially cancerous growths.
If they still suspect lung cancer following your screening, they may ask to take a small piece of tissue from the lungs to examine it closely for cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.
Doctors can perform lung biopsies in two different ways. They may pass a needle through the skin to your lungs and remove a small amount of tissue. This is called a needle biopsy.
Alternatively, your doctor may use bronchoscopy to perform the biopsy. In this case, your doctor inserts a small tube with an attached light through your nose or mouth and into your lungs to remove a small tissue sample.
If they find cancer cells, your doctor may conduct a genetic test. This can help determine what type of lung cancer you have and possibly identify underlying causes, such as genetic mutations.
If you have lung cancer, your doctor may use a variety of treatments based on your specific circumstances, including:
- targeted drugs
Doctors will often use more than one method to treat lung cancer. For example, they might prescribe chemotherapy or radiation to shrink a tumor before surgery.
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The Lung Cancer Centers At Ctca
Because lung cancer is often diagnosed after its progressed to an advanced stage, its important to turn to a clinical team with expertise to tailor a treatment plan specific to your tumor type, stage, genomic markers and other needs. Having a team of lung cancer experts collaborating daily, all under one roof, allows us to assemble a detailed treatment plan more quickly and more efficiently.
At the Lung Cancer Centers at each of our hospitals, our cancer experts are devoted to a single missiontreating lung cancer patients with compassion and precision. This singular focus enables our oncologists to stay up to date on new and emerging treatments and technologies, allowing us to help you make informed decisions about the options available to treat not just the disease but the side effects that may result. Clinical trials in immunotherapy, cryotherapy and other areas of innovation may be among the options available.
Each patients care team is led by a medical oncologist and coordinated by a nurse, who helps keep track of the various appointments, follows up on tests and answers questions that come up along the way. Your care team also may include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pathologist and interventional pulmonologist with specialized training in non-invasive procedures to help preserve lung function and reduce side effects.
Expert cancer care