Does Upper Back Pain Mean Lung Cancer?


Quick Answer

Pain in the mid-to-upper back can be a symptom of lung cancer. The growing tumor can press against structures in the back, leading to discomfort. The tumor can also irritate nerves in the lining of the lungs or the chest, notes About.com.

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Full Answer

Many patients undergo back therapy when they experience persistent pain; however, when the therapy sessions do not ease the pain, the doctors then test for lung cancer or other causes. Patients undergoing physical therapy for back pain but experiencing no improvement over the course of several weeks or months should notify their doctors so that further testing can take place, states About.com.

Back pain has many causes that have nothing to do with lung cancer. Other symptoms of lung cancer include coughing up blood, short breath, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and persistent cough, so any or all of those in combination with back pain is worrisome, as stated by About.com.

Another way in which lung cancer causes back pain happens when lung cancer spreads, or metastasizes, to spinal bones or adrenal glands, which sit near the top of the kidney. About one in four patients experiences pain in the bones at diagnosis, and as lung cancer progresses, back pain is quite common, according to About.com.

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