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Lung Cancer: Back Pain Can Be a Possible Symptom

Lung Cancer: Back Pain Can Be a Possible Symptom

Back pain is a common complaint that a lot of people have. But did you know that it can also be a possible symptom of lung cancer? How can you tell lung cancer back pain from back pain caused by something else? Read on to find out more.

Lung Cancer Back Pain: What You Should Know

Lung cancer is one of the most common, and also most serious forms of cancer in the world. Just like other cancers, early detection is crucial when it comes to treatment and recovery. This is where knowledge of the symptoms of lung cancer come in.

lung cancer back pain

The usual symptoms associated with lung cancer include a persistent cough, recurring chest infections, coughing up blood, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of fatigue or tiredness1. However, there is another possible symptom that not everyone is aware of, and that is back pain.

How exactly does lung cancer cause back pain, and can identify if the pain you’re experiencing is lung cancer?

How Can Lung Cancer Cause Back Pain?

One interesting thing you should know about the lungs is that they have no pain receptors. When a person experiences pain due to lung cancer, it’s usually because of inflammation of the pleura, or the tissue that protects the lungs2. This makes it even more difficult to identify if back pain is caused by cancer since inflammation of the pleura can be caused by a number of different things.

In the case of lung cancer, what usually happens is that tumors might be causing inflammation of the pleura. What happens is that as the tumors grow, they could start irritating the nerve endings of the pleura. This, in turn, can cause back pain or chest pain.

It Could Be A Sign Of A More Serious Illness

While rare, it’s possible for lung cancer back pain to be a sign that the cancer has already spread throughout the body. It’s possible that it has metastasized or spread throughout the bones, and that might be the reason for back pain3.

In particular, a tumor in the spine could be a possible reason for back pain. The tumors can apply pressure to the nerves surrounding them, and thus can be a reason for back pain. Another explanation is that the cancer might have already spread to other nearby organs, and that could be the reason for back or chest pain.

However, it is important to note that this isn’t always the case. Just because you have back pain doesn’t automatically mean that you might have lung cancer. However, if the pain is recurring and unexplainable, then it might be a good idea to get it checked out, just to be on the safe side.

It is estimated that about 25% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have had back pain as a symptom4. So it is important to not ignore these aches and pains, as they could be a symptom of a more serious illness.

If It’s Not Lung Cancer, What Else Could It Be?

If you do have unexplainable pain in your back, you should not panic. It’s very possible that the pain might be caused by something else, and not due to lung cancer.

Here are some possible reasons for having back pain:

  • Scoliosis or curvature of the spine
  • Sprains in the spine
  • Injury
  • Arthritis or other related illnesses
  • Spondylosis or degeneration of the spine
  • Sciatica or compression of the sciatic nerve
  • Kidney stones
  • Endometriosis (in women)

The best thing to do whenever you have an unexplainable back pain is to consult your doctor. This way, they can help diagnose what could be causing your back pain, and what remedies are available.

Learn more about lung cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
  1. Lung cancer – Symptoms – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lung-cancer/symptoms/, Accessed October 26, 2021
  2. What Causes Lung Pain in the Back? | Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, https://www.roswellpark.org/cancertalk/202007/what-causes-lung-pain-back, Accessed October 26, 2021
  3. Back Pain in a Patient With Lung Cancer, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093317/, Accessed October 26, 2021
  4. Back Pain and Cancer: How Are They Related? | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, https://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2018/07/back-pain-cancer-related/, Accessed October 26, 2021
  5. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet, Accessed October 26, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.