How Lung Cancer And Back Pain Are Linked
When we think about back pain, usually the last thing that comes to mind is cancer. Instead, we associate it with things like physical trauma or a degenerative disease .
While back pain caused by lung cancer shares commonalities with many of these disorders, it also has a distinct difference. Much of these relate to how and where the cancer causes pain, both directly and indirectly. Some of the possible ways in which lung cancer can produce back pain include:
- The direct pressure a tumor can place on the structure of the back, more often than not, is in the mid to upper back rather than lower back.
- A malignancy can irritate the nerves servicing the lining of the lungs and chest wall, triggering a sharp and sometimes chronic nerve pain.
- Cancer spread from the lungs to the spine and bones is an occurrence shared by upwards of 30% of people with lung cancer.
- Metastasis of cancer to the adrenal glands , can cause localized pain due to its location right above the kidney.
At the current time, the majority of people who develop lung cancer are non-smokers , and lung cancer is increasing in young women and men who have never smoked.
In fact, due to the location of the type of lung cancer most common in non-smokers, the typical symptoms most people associate with lung cancer are often absent. These tumors are also more likely than other kinds of lung cancer to spread to bones.
Common Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer
The following are the most common signs of exocrine pancreatic cancerspecifically for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. This cancer starts in the ducts of the pancreas and represents more than 90 percent of all diagnoses. Neuroendocrine tumors are much less common and may present different symptoms.
Patients may experience symptoms differently and should not expect to manifest all symptoms listed.
What Can I Do For Low Back Pain At Home
If your lower back pain has just started, the best thing you can do is start a log. Record your symptoms, times, dates and which activities trigger the pain or make it worse or better. Take this information to your family physician if the pain doesnt resolve on its own. It will make diagnosing the cause much easier.
Once you know which motion or position causes your lower back pain, try to avoid it and see if you get better. Icing the painful spot can also help. And so can over-the-counter pain relievers that help reduce inflammation. Just remember that pain killers treat only the symptom pain and not its cause.
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Back Pain From Cancer
Rarely, it may be the first manifestation of cancer, says a paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine .
The study authors point out that out of 1,975 walk-in patients at a clinic, only 13 were found to have cancer as a cause of their back pain.
Certain findings correlate to this, but these findings certainly dont automatically mean cancer:
At least 50 years of age
Previous history of cancer
Pain lasting longer than a month
No improvement with conservative therapy
Whats scary is that the paper says that metastatic cancer, when causing back pain, may not always cause other symptoms.
When cancer causes back pain, its more frequently in the lower region. Thus, pain specifically in the middle back, from this disease, would be even rarer.
Quite simply, pain in the back, be it low, middle or upper, has MANY causes including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease , fibromyalgia, aortic disease, imminent heart attack, premenstrual syndrome, benign ovarian cysts and overdoing it in a yoga class.
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: Freepik.com/ shayne_ch13
Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
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Too Much Calcium In Your Blood
When the bones are damaged, calcium is released into the bloodstream. Too much calcium in the blood is called hypercalcaemia. This makes you feel very thirsty, sick and tired. You might also pass a lot of urine, as your body tries to get rid of the extra calcium. If hypercalcaemia is not treated and gets worse, it can make you drowsy and difficult to wake.
About 30 out of 100 people with myeloma have symptoms like these when they first go to the doctor.
Stages Of Pancreatic Cancer
After diagnosis, staging of cancer is made based on the spread of cancer
- Stage I: Tumor exists only in the pancreas.
- Stage II: Tumor has spread to nearby abdominal tissues or lymph nodes.
- Stage III: Cancer has spread to major blood vessels and lymph nodes.
- Stage IV:Metastasis of cancer. Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
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Some Of The Most Common Signs And Symptoms Of Cancer
Although every case is different, some general signs and symptoms of cancer include:
Most of the time, these symptoms arent caused by cancer. A benign tumor or another problem may be the culprit. But you shouldnt ignore symptoms that are persistent, severe, or dont go away.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer can affect anyone. The presence of certain risk factors, however, makes someone more vulnerable to get the disease. Nonetheless, the presence of risk factors does not mean that the person will surely get the disease. Likewise, the absence of risk factors does not make one immune from getting pancreatic cancer.
Some of the major risk factors for pancreatic cancer include
- Non-modifiable risk factors: These include the risk factors that are not in ones control and they cannot be changed. They include
- Age: Pancreatic cancer risk increases as a person grows older. Most people affected by this cancer are older than 45 years of age with almost 75 percent of patients being at least 65 years old.
- Gender: The number of pancreatic cancer cases is higher in males than in females.
- Race: African-Americans seem to be at a higher risk than Caucasians.
- Genetic syndromes: Certain inherited conditions, such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, may increase the risk.
- Family history: A history of pancreatic cancer in a parent, child or sibling may increase the risk of the disease although most patients diagnosed with the condition do not have a positive family history.
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Managing Colon Cancer And Potential Pain
When we talk about managing colon cancer, we need to consider more than the basic treatment options. Managing colon cancer should include:
- Treatments for the cancer
- Pain management strategies
- Mental health and well being
Treatment for colon cancer will depend on the individual and on the stage of the cancer.
- In localized colon cancer, doctors are likely to recommend localized treatments such as, surgery, ablation, and radiation.
- In regional colon cancer, doctors often recommend surgery, with the potential use of adjuvant chemotherapy, depending on the individual. In some more advanced cases of regional cancer, the tumor is too large to remove by surgery. In this case, radiation may first be used to shrink the tumor, before surgically removing the cancer.
- In distance colon cancer, chemotherapy is nearly always recommended. In distance colon cancer, the cancer often spreads to the liver or lungs. If the spread is not too great, surgery may still be used. Ablation or embolization may also be used.
The treatments for colon cancer, can cause their own symptoms, a primary one being pain, explains Dr. Ali.
Pain From Cancer Surgery Treatments And Tests
Surgical pain: Surgery is often part of the treatment for cancers that grow as solid tumors. Depending on the kind of surgery you have, some amount of pain is usually expected and can last from a few days to weeks. Talk to your doctor about pain medicines you may need after surgery so you wont be in pain when your surgery is over. You may need stronger pain medicine at first after surgery, but after a few days or so you should be able to control it with less strong medicines.
Phantom pain: Phantom pain is a longer-lasting effect of surgery, beyond the usual surgical pain. If youve had an arm, leg, or even a breast removed, you may still feel pain or other unusual or unpleasant feelings that seem to be coming from the absent body part. Doctors are not sure why this happens, butphantom painis real its not all in your head.
No single pain relief method controls phantom pain in all patients all the time. Many methods have been used to treat this type of pain, including pain medicine, physical therapy, antidepressantmedicines, and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation . If youre having phantom pain, ask your cancer care team what can be done.
Side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments: Some treatment side effects cause pain. Pain can even make some people stop treatment if its not managed. Talk to your cancer care team about any changes you notice or any pain you have.
Here are some examples of pain caused by cancer treatment:
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How To Manage Back Pain Caused By Ovarian Cancer
Treating cancer pain can be no easy feat. It is recommended that you follow recommendations as discussed by your oncologist to manage your pain.
One way to treat the pain caused by cancer is to remove the source of the pain or minimize the source. This can be done by surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, for example. Keep in mind, as discussed, that the treatment of pain can also cause pain during the process.
Sometimes, the tumor may be ineligible for these types of treatments, or you may opt to not treat your tumor. Or, as discussed, the treatment causes pain during the process of actually treating the pain. So what do you do in these circumstances?
Well, you treat the pain directly with medication or without medication.
Using Medication for Back Pain
For pain that is mild to moderate in intensity, non-opioids or non-narcotic medications are typically prescribed to manage the pain. Medications in this category include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
NSAIDs are typically avoided if youre on chemotherapy, blood thinners, steroids, or will be having surgery for your tumor within one week.
Sometimes, you may be prescribed nonconventional medications to treat your pain.
More About Using Opioids
Opioids came in many different varieties and depending on your needs, and you may be prescribed a variety of different types of opioids to manage your pain.
Sometimes these two types are used together to control chronic pain.
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Is The Back The First Place For It To Spread
The most common sites for breast cancer to spread to are:
- the lungs
- the bones
- the brain
As cancer cells rapidly grow out of control, they move into healthy tissues to form new tumors. This spread usually starts with the tissue nearest to where the cancer initially began. When this happens, people may start to experience symptoms in the new area.
When breast cancer spreads to the bones, it can affect:
- the ribs
These symptoms occur when the bones start releasing calcium into the bloodstream. The bones may also fracture more easily.
Other signs that cancer is spreading include:
- headaches, dizziness, and possibly seizures if it involves the brain
- shortness of breath, which may indicate that it has spread to the lungs
- jaundice and abdominal swelling, when cancer spreads to the liver
A person can often treat back pain at home, but if it persists or gets worse, they should see their doctor.
Home care for back pain includes taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen.
However, a person should speak to their doctor before taking any medications, as these may interact with existing treatment.
Other treatments for advanced breast cancer include:
- hormonal therapies
- targeted therapy
These methods all aim to reduce the size of tumors or prevent them growing, help with symptoms, and extend someoneâs life.
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The Details About Colon Cancer Progression And Prognosis
Like all cancers, colon cancer is divided into different stages. These stages are based on the progression of the disease and are often used to choose treatments and predict survival rates. It is important to note that survival rates are an average of existing data and each persons experience with colon cancer will be different and will be dependent on factors such as:
- Specific tumor markers
- Whether the cancer has returned
When colon cancer is diagnosed in the early stages, survival rates are quite high. To break it down:
- Localized colon cancer includes stages 0-1. In these stages, the cancer has not grown beyond the lining of the colon. Localized colon cancer has an average 90% survival rate.
- Regional colon cancer includes stages 2-3. In stage 2, the cancer has grown thru the colon wall but has not affected the lymph nodes. In stage 3, localized lymph nodes are affected by the cancer. Regionalized colon cancer has a survival rate of 71.1%
- Distant colon cancer is stage 4. In stage 4, the cancer has spread to other sites, including lymph nodes or other organs. Distant colon cancer has a survival rate of 13.8%.
Colon cancer that is caught early can often be successfully treated. The greatest danger of this cancer is that it often goes undetected, making it progressively more difficult to treat. Because warning signs of colon cancer are often hard to catch, its crucial to get regular screeningsa colonoscopy.
Understanding Spinal Cord Tumors
A tumor forms when an abnormal cell grows to form a mass of abnormal cells. Spinal cord tumors are tumors that form in the spinal cord or in the area around it.
A spinal cord tumor may be cancerous or noncancer . A benign tumor can often cause pain and discomfort because it pushes on the spinal cord or nerves.
A spinal cord tumor may be called primary. This means the cancer started in the spinal cord. Or the tumor may be secondary. This means the cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the spinal cord. Most of the time, spinal cord tumors are secondary tumors. A spinal cord tumor is often a cancer of the lung, breast, prostate, or another cancer that has spread throughout the body to reach the spine.
Spinal cord tumors are sometimes caused by a genetic disorder, such as neurofibromatosis.
Facts about spinal cord tumors
Spinal cord tumors are fairly uncommon. It’s much more common to develop a brain tumor than a tumor on the spinal cord. A spinal cord tumor may form inside the spinal cord itself or around the bones that make up the spine. Spinal cord tumors can cause problems with the nearby nerves, blood vessels, and bones.
Some spinal cord tumors can be successfully treated. The earlier you tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms, get a diagnosis, and start treatment, the better your outcome is likely to be. But spinal cord tumors often cause long-lasting damage to the nerves and result in disability.
Types of spinal cord tumors
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How Spinal Cancer May Cause Back Pain
Tumors in the spinal column may cause back pain by:
- Expanding and/or weakening the bone
- Causing the vertebrae to easily fracture
- Compressing the spinal cord and/or spinal nerve roots
Additional factors, such as spinal instability, may also be involved in spinal tumors causing back pain.
See Spinal Tumors and Back Pain
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 .
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