Is your back pain a red flag for lung cancer?

Many times, one of the first indicators of lung cancer can be back pain, specially in the upper back region. This was pointed out in a recent study that found that 47 per cent of participating patients with lung cancer suffered from chronic pain.

Your back pain may be a sign of lung cancer. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Lung Cancer is often associated with people who smoke. While it is true that four out of five smokers may have this disease, instances of non-smokers having lung cancer have also been reported to be on a high. Unlike other cancers, lung cancer can be difficult to diagnose as many tumours in the lungs do not cause symptoms. Since there are no nerve endings in the lungs, large tumours can easily go unnoticed.

According to a study by the US National Library of Medicine, new and unexplained back pain may be a symptom of lung cancer. In an assessment after combining data from various studies, it was found that 47 per cent of patients with lung cancer suffered from chronic pain, as noted by LungCancer.net.

From mild to intense, pain in the back is the most common sign of lung cancer, according to Dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Orthopedic at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. “Many times the first symptom of lung carcinoma is back pain,” says Dr Gulati. However, pain is felt once the cancer has reached the spine, making it a stage four one and much harder to deal with.

When back pain can point to possible lung cancer

* If there is a persistent pain in the back for more than three weeks, one should see a doctor immediately.

* If the pain is disturbing sleep and runs down the arms and legs, it can be serious.

* Upper back pain should not be taken lightly and a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Other symptoms of lung cancer

Unusual or a persistent cough, difficulty in breathing, bleeding in the sputum (mucous secretions from the lungs), loss of weight and appetite and others are the most common symptoms of lung cancer, according to Dr Malay Nandy, Director of the Department of Medical Oncology, Jaypee Hospital.

Symptoms in smokers

For regular smokers, identifying the symptoms can be hard as wheezing and coughing are normal lifestyle concerns for them. In such cases, they should watch out for persistent coughing and a tinge of blood in the sputum.

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