Lung cancer can vary from patient to patient, and each case can be unique! The symptoms of this life-threatening cancer can vary, too. Pain cancer is a symptom that often takes attention. In fact, it’s not easy to cope. How about pain in spine and what does it mean if you have lung cancer? Does this symptom point to advanced stage of the disease?
The mortality rate in people with lung cancer is high. The main reason is the high number of cases that are first diagnosed lately.
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There is usually no early warning sign of lung cancer. In fact, many times the disease is caught when it has become advanced. The symptoms are likely to occur when the cancer at its advanced stages or if it has spread.
However, in a few cases this cancer may also cause some noticeable symptoms. Chest pain and shortness of breath are some of the common symptoms. Other early signs may include:
- Coughing most of the time and difficult to treat. It may come up with sputum. Even sometime the sputum contains blood.
- Changes in your appetite, especially loss of appetite.
- Unexpected weight loss.
- Lethargy (weakness and tiredness).
- See more about these early signs and symptoms in here!
There are several ways to make staging of lung cancer. The most popular staging is with the number from I to IV, which stage I is the earliest phase and stage IV is the worst scenario (the most advanced stage).
The disease is less likely to cause symptom in its stage I (when it is most treatable), and more likely to cause symptoms in the stages of II, III, and IV. In stage I, the cancer tumor is smaller and there is no any lymph nodes affected by cancer cells.
The stages of II and III mean a number of different things. In essence, these tell that the cancer has grown bigger or/and spread further than what happen in stage I.
Stage IV is commonly interpreted for the metastasis phase (when the cancer cells have spread to distant organ).This also means:
- If the cancer has found in two lungs!
- Or it has caused fluid accumulation containing cancer cells around the lung or heart.
For more guidance about lung cancer stages, see this post!
Pain is a common symptom for many cancers. It is also quite common in people with lung cancer.
The pain can be attributed by several factors. For instance, it is not only derived from the cancer growth. Some cancer treatments can also contribute to cause this discomfort symptom.
The size of cancer tumor and bone metastasis may be the answer
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Interestingly, where the pain occurs may point to a specific stage or condition of the cancer. For instance, pain in the inner part of scapula in people with lung cancer is likely to be associated with pancoast tumor (a condition of when the cancer tumor grows right at the top of the lung).
Pain in spine in people with or without cancer can be associated with lots of underlying causes. Generally, it occurs due to problems of spinal muscles, bones, nerves, tendons, or discs.
For people with lung cancer, pain in spine is still a vogue symptom. It can be related to the cancer or something else. Even if it does link to the cancer, it means a number of different things, too.
Over time, the size of cancer in the lung can be large enough to put extra pressure on the structures of the spine, causing discomfort pain in the back (see more in this post). Pain in the spine may also signal stage IV lung cancer with bone metastasis!
How about paraneoplastic syndromes?
Sometime lung cancer can release particular substances into the bloodstream, causing some symptoms that have nothing to do with lung such as easily blood clots, excess-growth of finger tips, weakness, breast swelling in men, or even some neurologic problems.
These symptoms called paraneoplastic syndromes. Particular substances released by the cancer can spread through bloodstream and affect distant areas, even though the cancer has not spread to those areas.
Can paraneoplastic syndromes cause pain in the spine, too? Spine pain is not commonly associated with paraneoplastic syndromes. But there may be a chance for hormonal-like substances released by the cancer to also affect the spine.
Don’t make a conclusion on your own!
Overall, the symptoms that you’re experiencing are not enough to make the diagnosis.
To figure out the stage of your lung cancer, several tests are usually required. In general these include imaging tests (like with CT-scan, MRI scan, or X-ray test), sputum cytology, and biopsy (a minor surgery to remove a sample tissue).