Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2020: We often tend to ignore our back pain and take it as an after-effect of excessive physical stress or too much workload. But medical research has shown that often unexplained backache can be a red flag for lung cancer. According to a medical study, around 25% of people with lung cancer report back pain as a symptom at some point in their disease. If cells in lungs start growing abnormally, that condition is known as lung cancer. Multiple tumours are formed due to the uncontrolled growth of cells, and these tumours spread within the other parts of the body. As the tumours start growing within the lungs, it obstructs our breathing process by blocking the airways in the lungs. Therefore, the lungs fail to function correctly, and it results in shortness of breath.
Back pain: Can it be caused by the tumour pressing on spine nerves?
If lung cancer continues to grow and spread across the body, it pressurizes the bones that structure the spine and the spinal cord. The back pain may be caused by a tumour pressing on the nerves in the spine. Over time, this pain gradually spreads into the neck, lymph or upper, middle, or lower back. Even one can feel pain in his/her arms, buttocks, or legs. Sudden weakness in legs can be worrisome too. Our back or neck may feel numb, weak, or stiff. People often tend to generalize the back pain caused by lung cancer with a muscle cramp, or it may feel sharp like a nerve compression.
How lung cancer has in the last few decades?
Lung cancer is one of the most critical types of cancer that silently grows and spreads quickly across the body. In most cases, lung cancer does not show any early signs as there are no nerve endings in the lungs. But still, we have to be cautious enough about the possible symptoms of lung cancer even if we don’t smoke. Because in the last few decades, lung cancer has increased at an alarming rate among the non-smokers as well. It is essential to know when to take action against the back pain as not all type of back pains accompany lung cancer.
- One should seek the medical guidance if the back pain prevails more than three weeks and it deteriorates with time
- If anyone is facing disruption in sleep due to back pain and the pain slowly runs down the arms and legs, it can be serious
- If the back pain gets worse at night
- Back pain that occurs even without any physical activity
- While lying on the bed or taking a deep breath or while laughing, the back pain worsens
- When any physical therapy or other medicines can’t reduce the back pain, it’s alarming
Conclusion: Some other noticeable symptoms may occur along with the chronic back pain, i.e. Persistent cough, shortness of breath, unintentional weight loss, unexplained tiredness, or the coughing up of blood may further stress on the possibility of lung cancer.
(Dr Mohit Agarwal, Additional Director and Head - Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh)
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