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How To Tell If Back Pain Is Lung Cancer

Breathing Changes Or Wheezing

How to Spot Lung Cancer Early | Cancer Research UK

Shortness of breath or becoming easily winded are also possible symptoms of lung cancer. Changes in breathing can occur if lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumor builds up in the chest.

Make note of when you feel winded or short of breath. If you find it difficult to breathe after climbing stairs or performing tasks you once found easy, dont ignore it.

When your airways become constricted, blocked, or inflamed, your lungs may produce a wheezing or whistling sound when you breathe. This can have multiple causes, some of which are benign and easily treatable.

However, wheezing can also be a symptom of lung cancer, so its a good idea to bring it to your doctors attention. Its best not to assume that wheezing is caused by asthma or allergies. Have your doctor confirm the cause.

What Causes Lung Pain In The Back

If you have discomfort while breathing or feel a nondescript pain in your upper back or chest, you may worry that something is wrong with your lungs. A number of ailments can cause chest or back pain, some as simple as a strained muscle or seasonal allergy. It also could be a sign of a more serious condition like lung cancer. But while you’re determining where the pain is coming from, you would be surprised to learn that lung tissue does not actually have pain receptors. The nerve endings that have pain receptors are actually in the lung lining, called the pleura. An injury to the lining of the lung, inflammation due to an infection or invasion by cancer can all cause pain in the chest.

In the case of lung cancer, back or chest pain is caused by the tumor irritating the nerve endings in the pleura, as well as in the bone or muscles that the tumor is invading. Pain also can be the result when cancer growth limits the blood supply to an organ or triggers the formation of blood clots. Lung cancer can occur in locations throughout the chest, so there is no specific location that will indicate that the pain you’re feeling is due to lung cancer. However, lung cancer usually does not cause any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Common symptoms of lung cancer, in addition to chest pain, include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, production of bloody phlegm, weight loss, weakness, fatigue and recurrent pneumonia.

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The Link Between Back Pain And Cancer

Millions of people experience some type of back pain during their lifetime. Back pain is common and usually related to an injury or muscle issue. But less commonly, it can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as cancer.

Back pain isnt commonly a symptom we see before someone is diagnosed with cancer, says Dr. Marilyn Norton, an oncologist and hematologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. However, we often see patients ignore their back pain because they assume it is the same pain they have always had. Worsening back pain is a concern that should be brought to the attention of your physician.

When back pain is a symptom of cancer, its usually a side effect of treatment, such as chemotherapy, or because the cancer has spread or metastasized to another part of the body, typically the spine. A number of cancers can metastasize to the spine, including breast cancer, testicular cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer.

In fact, approximately 25% of people with lung cancer report back pain as a symptom. This is because a tumor in the lungs can put pressure on the spine or can affect the nerves around the chest wall and spine.

Types of cancer-related painThere are different types of back pain that cancer can cause:

Inflammatory pain is caused by the cancer itself, as most cancers release molecules that can cause irritation, inflammation and pain. Treatment is typically limited to treating the cancer itself.

  • Fever

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Common Lung Cancer Symptoms

Often, when patients receive a lung cancer diagnosis, they have been experiencing symptoms such as persistent breathing difficulty, recurring respiratory infections or chest pain for a while. But the patient likely didnt realize these were symptoms of lung cancer, so they waited to see a doctor.

While every cough or case of bronchitis isnt a reason to believe you have lung cancer, if you are at high risk of developing lung cancer, paying attention to the early warning signs is critical, saysRussell Hales, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist and director of the multidisciplinary clinic at The Lung Cancer Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Common lung cancer symptoms include:

How Lung Cancer Can Cause Back Pain

Medical Reasons for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Dr. Psallidas explains, Bone is a common site of metastasis in lung cancer. It is reported that approximately 1530% of patients with lung cancer will have bone metastases1.

Evidence shows that approximately 50% of lung cancer patients with bone metastasis have a spread of cancer cells to the spine2. Back pain could also be the first symptom that patients with lung cancer ever experience.

The back pain from lung cancer will not respond to conservative treatments that are prescribed for musculoskeletal back pain, such as exercises, stretching, yoga, heating pads, hot water massages and deep tissue massage.

It will not get better with rest or over time, and is not triggered by body position or physical activity.

Dr. Psallidas is the main author of many peer-reviewed publications and book chapters in pleural disease and lung cancer.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Top image: shayne_ch13
References1. Roodman GD. Mechanisms of bone metastasis. N Engl J Med 2004 350:165564. 10.1056/NEJMra030831. Can Cancer Cause Middle Back Pain?2. Michael Kuchuk, Christina L. Addison, Mark Clemons, Iryna Kuchuk, and Paul Wheatley-Pricea. Incidence and consequences of bone metastases in lung cancer patients. J Bone Oncol. 2013 Feb 2: 2229. How common is it

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Back Pain And Lung Cancer: What’s The Connection

When lung cancer spreads to the spine, it creates pressure on the backbone and spinal cord, causing pain in the neck or back. Your back or neck may feel numb, weak, or stiff. The pain may spread to the arms, buttocks, or legs. In addition, cord compression may also lead to sudden weakness of a limb.

However, not every back pain indicates lung cancer. Any kind of spine injury or inflammation can cause back pain too. But if your back pain last for more than three weeks, consult a doctor. If the pain occurs even without any activity, and worsens while lying on bed, taking a deep breath or at night, it points towards lung cancer.

Whats The Outlook For People With Back Pain And Cancer

Less than 10 percent of spinal tumors actually start in the spine, according to the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Even if a spinal tumor is present and causing lower back pain, the tumor isnt always cancerous.

If the lower back pain is related to metastatic cancer, its important to talk to your doctor about your treatment outlook. When cancers start to spread, this may indicate a poorer prognosis.

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Whats Causing Lung Pain In Your Back

There are several reasons you may be feeling pain in and around the back of your lungs.

This pain may be due to injuries or disturbances in the lining of your lungs or the bones and muscles surrounding the organs. Persistent coughs can even cause back pain in the back of your lungs.

However, your lungs have very few pain receptors, and people often refer to more general chest pains as lung pains.

Lung Cancer Pain Management

Symptoms of lung cancer

It is essential to understand the methods to manage the lung cancer pain in order to maintain a healthy quality of life. Implement the following lung cancer pain management strategy for better handling of pain.

  • Radiation: Radiation Therapy can be beneficial in reducing the lung cancer pain. By using radiation therapy, the doctors aim to shrink the cancer tumor, so that the discomfort can get reduced.
  • Nerve Blocks: Medicines can be injected into the nerves to reduce the pain.
  • Medications: Certain types of medicines are very much helpful in the controlling the flow of pain. But it is strictly advised to consult with the doctor and take only the prescribed dose. An overdose of medicines can be very harmful to the body.
  • Surgery: Surgery is used when the doctors aim to remove the pain causing tumor partially or entirely to reduce the pain from the body.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Back Pain Due To Cancer

If cancer is causing your back pain, you may not find relief with conventional treatments administered to relieve back pain. Additionally, a visible lump may be seen in the back.

If the back pain is due to cancer, you may experience back pain that:

  • Persists all day, independent of activities
  • Intensifies during the night or after getting up in the morning

You may experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Lumps in the body at various sites

The Real Impact Of Lung Cancer Research Funding

It is thanks to research that patients like Jennifer are able to live long, happy lives, despite a lung cancer diagnosis. No matter the available treatment options, a lung cancer diagnosis is always devastating to both the patient and their families. At LCFA, it is our goal to continue to raise funds for research so that, in our lifetimes, lung cancer can become a chronic disease, not fatal, disease.

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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.

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When To Talk To Your Doctor

Lung cancer symptoms: Nine early warning signs you should NEVER ignore ...

If youre experiencing symptoms and at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, you should talk to your doctor about having a routine screening, Dr. Hales says.

Screenings for people at high risk of developing lung cancer offers hope for early detection, when surgery is a possible cure. Read more about lung cancer screening.

People considered at high risk for developing lung cancer:

  • Have a history of heavy smoking
  • Are current smokers or former smokers who quit within the past 15 years and
  • Are between the ages of 55 and 80.

If your doctor detects anything abnormal during a lung cancer screening, diagnostic tests such as imaging scans and biopsies are the next step. Read more about how to reduce your risk of lung cancer.

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Causes Of Lung Cancer

Some of the following behaviors or conditions might make you consider having your back pain evaluated by a medical doctor. If you have any of these risk factors, your back pain may relate to possible lung cancer:

  • Smoking cigarettes and cigars
  • History of lung cancer in the family
  • Asbestos or other carcinogen exposure

Certain substances such as asbestos can increase the risk of developing lung cancer or mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining surrounding the lungs and other body parts.

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Jennifers Back Pain Was Something More

But for the intense morning sickness and utter exhaustion, Jennifer Fraziers third pregnancy was unremarkable. Following a c-section delivery, she felt great. A dull pain in her left flank, though annoying was hardly a great concern. Two months later, the pain hadnt subsided yet, so she paid a visit to her local urgent care. There she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection a common postpartum issue. She took the full course of prescribed antibiotics, and while the UTI resolved, the back pain did not.

Three months later, with the pain still there, Jennifer saw her primary care physician. Citing her past history with kidney stones, her physician further explored what might be going on. She was not suffering from kidney stones. A diagnostic chest CT revealed a fairly significant amount of fluid and a 1-centimeter spot on her left lung.

Following a c-section it is standard medical protocol for the patient to blow into a tube to clear the lungs. Jennifer recalled that she had not done that following the birth of her daughter. Unconcerned, her pulmonologist agreed that might be playing a role. Out of an abundance of caution, however, he sent the fluid sample out for testing. The expectation was that it would come back clear.

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Types Of Pain In Lung Cancer

Pain is generally considered the most common symptom of lung cancer. Pain is often caused by multiple factors and its management needs to be multi-disciplinary to address all these aspects. In cancer, pain can be characterized into two areas: acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is usually due to a definable injury or illness. Acute pain may be a secondary cause of cancer, such as a severe bleeding into a tumor, bone pain caused by a metastasis , or abdominal pain caused by a metastasis that obstructs the bowel. Acute pain is usually experienced for a limited duration and is predictable. It is usually associated with clinical signs such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, sweating, and pale skin.3

Chronic cancer pain may be a result of the same causes as acute pain but it is experienced for a much longer duration. Chronic pain can persist for more than 12 hours a day and often has a gradual or poorly defined onset. Approximately 75 percent of cancer patients live with chronic pain.3

Many cancer patients experience flares of pain despite using pain medications. These flares are called breakthrough cancer pain. Breakthrough pain greatly impairs a patients quality of life and can cause additional psychological burden.3

Can I Work During Chemotherapy

Back Pain and Cancer

It depends on the work that you do and on how you feel. On days you donât feel well, you may want to see if you can work fewer hours or work from home. In some cases, employers are required by law to adjust your schedule when you have cancer treatment. A social worker may be able to help you learn about what the law allows.

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Choose An Orthopedist From Our Dover Nj Practice For Your Back Pain

When you choose a doctor from Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey for your back pain, youll receive a comprehensive evaluation to determine the cause of your symptoms, whether its a bone fracture, herniated disc, or something outside of your musculoskeletal system. If a practitioner from our office notices any abnormalities pressing on your bones or suspects that back pain isnt related to your musculoskeletal system, they will refer you to a specialist who can help. However, when its an issue we can address, we take every step necessary to find a treatment that works for you.

Book an appointment with Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey, serving Dover and the surrounding region, if you have persistent back pain by calling 989-0888 or by using our appointment scheduling tool. We look forward to serving you soon.

I Had Debilitating Pain

shared, quite by accident, a suspicious nodule was discovered in my right lung. The spot was revealed during a CT scan after I went to the ER for abdominal pain, thinking I might have appendicitis. To my shock and horror, I found out that I had lung cancer. Later, after experiencing months of debilitating thigh, leg and back pain, for which I was receiving chiropractic treatment to no avail, I finally went to an orthopedist. There I learned that the cancer had metastasized to my bones. I had been walking around with a pelvic fracture, and further scans showed spots in my ribs, lung and brain as well.

Elizabeth had been experiencing hip pain which stretched down into her thigh. Then her femur broke as she was going down the stairs in her house. After nearly a week of more x-rays and CT scans and MRIs, and a bronchoscopy, I was told I had non-small cell lung cancer, Stage IV. In addition to the femur, they had found tumors in the lower lobe of my right lung, lymph nodes near it and a lesion in my brain. Shocked doesnt even begin to describe how I felt. Shocked not only at the diagnosis but also in disbelief because, other than the hip and leg pain, Id had no symptoms no shortness of breath, no coughing, no pain, no headaches, no vision issues, nothing.

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