I'm so thankful to have a place to ask my question. There are a shortage of doctors where I live and I have to wait another 3 weeks to get into one, to ask my questions/voice my concerns.
I'm 34...have smoked now for 15 years. I know how stupid it is to smoke and I'm desperately trying to quit.
I have been having pain to my mid back, along the spine, that seems to be increasing...for the past few weeks. It's hard to describe....almost between a severe ache/knot, to a burning pain..almost sharp. It's worse by the end of the day.
I *DO* have a back injury (work related) from a few years ago....and I do get spasms to this very same area, plus the muscle is often as "hard as steel" (as one doctor put it)...they've never known WHY it's like this, but it's been this way for 6 yrs now.
I know I had spine/back xrays about 5 years ago or so....related to my back, of course.
So as you've probably gathered from this post, I'm worried that perhaps this pain is due to lung cancer. Now I know that sounds pretty extreme and possibly paranoid....but this really has me worried.
But here's what I think, and maybe I'm wrong.....I'm thinking that if I *DID* have lung cancer, to the point of having a tumor that would be causing pain like this, SURELY I'd have some other symptoms: shortness of breath, frequent cough, coughing up phlegm with blood in it, severe fatigue, etc.....RIGHT?
This pain does not increase when taking a deep breath (or forcefully breathing out/exhaling). I have only the odd "smoker's cough" but nothing more. I don't cough anything up, actually.
On top of this all, I'm an RN (yes, I should know better than to smoke)...so you may be thinking I should "know all this"....but it's true, I've cared for many, many patients over the years, with lung cancer....but it's not like I ever asked them what their initial symptoms were....I usually cared for them once they were in later stages of the disease.
The first thing I do 3 weeks from now, when I get into my doctor, is request bilateral chest xrays....but in the meantime, I'm worrying myself sick.
What does anyone make of this? Of course I'm not asking for a diagnosis....I'm just asking if it would be possible to have lung cancer at a stage where a tumor would be large enough to cause pain...but not have any other symptoms?
Thanks so very much,
The Following User Says Thank You to leese For This Useful Post: Betty Cutshall (02-27-2012)
I have been diagnosised with Lung cancer since July 2001.. The way it was found was I went in for a hysterectomy and they did a routine pre admit and a chest xray they seen a shadow and from there my life was a nightmare...I quit smoking 14 years ago..I have had chemo and radiation and now I am doing chemo again.
I have no syptoms then and I have none now..expect for the treatment making me sick and tired..
As for you thinking you have lung cancer I would wait till I knew for sure..being a nurse I am sure you know that more women are dying from lung cancer then breast cancer and we sure dont get much exposure..
Please demand a CT scan. My sister's only symptom was back pain and it took nine months for them to find it because it never showed up on THREE chest x-rays. When they finally diagnosed it in September after her having pain since January, it was STage IV. She is only 38, now turned 39, but her cancer has spread even though she had two rounds of chemo, radiation and radical surgery when they removed 40% of her lung and 3-1/2 ribs. PLEASE get it checked. She also smoked for 20 years. Don't wait. She was told by a neurosurgeon last year that it was a bulging disc. What happens is that it was on the apex of the lung so it doesn't show up on the CT scan. The pain would be there all the time.
Thanks very much to both of you who took the time to reply.
The pain (a most horrible burning/throbbing sensation) was so bad Monday that I actually went to the Emerg Dept....thinking that it would be a quicker way of getting diagnostics done (xrays, or preferably, CT Scan). I waited for 4 hours and I couldn't stand the pain of sitting any longer..and was told it was another 2 hour wait (what BS!)
Yesterday (Wed) afternoon, it was excrutiating...and I could actually FEEL tenderness just over the vertabrae in my thoracic (mid back) area. This happens to be the area of my original back injury from 6 yrs ago.
So after another 3 hours of waiting to be seen, the doc looks....and he immediately assumes the pain is related to my back injury. He said he could see the muscle there, protruding and spasming. When he touched that area, and the area over that vertebra, I nearly hit the roof. He refused to send me for a CT Scan...saying an MRI would be more appropriate, but that in my case, he could only justify ordering any kind of diagnostic test IF there was a high probability I'd need surgery. Because I didn't (don't) have the typical symptoms you'd find with a slipper (herniated) disc (pain down leg, weakness to leg on that side, problems with bowel/bladder control), that it was pretty clear that if this was due to a disc pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord, that it wasn't enough to warrant surgery.
(My MRI from 4-5 yrs ago does show a significant loss of disc height to the discs in my thoracic area (between T8-9, 9-10 and 10-11...and that one of them IS slightly pressing on spinal cord). I didn't even get the opportunity to discuss with him my fear of this pain being related to possible lung cancer. I got the impression he already thought I was overreacting by being quite adamant that diagnostics e done. He just wanted to prescribe me some pain killers (Percocet) and a muscle relaxant (Ativan)...said to basically dope myself up for 2 whole days, to give the muscle a chance to settle down. So, to me it was a bloody waste of all those hours waiting to be seen. I already had pain killers and muscle relaxants at home. *sigh*
I will be seeing my new doctor on Monday so I'll be sure to discuss this all with him.
I guess I'm leaning more toward this pain being due to damage to my back from my previous injury.....because when I'm resting/lying down, there's no pain.....and the pain is greatly worsened with prolonged sitting/standing. I would think if it was pain caused by a tumor pressing on the spinal cord/column, the pain would be there constantly...and it wouldn't respond (lessen) with muscle relaxants.
Only thing though...he said the burning pain I was having was just due to severe muscle spasms. Well I'm no stranger to muscle spasms...and I can say, I've NEVER EVER had spasms to this area of my back (or any other area) that actually "burned" like this......it's the most intense pain I've ever had in my life, and I can hack a lot of pain. That was another reason I was so badly wanting a CT Scan...because to me, this pain is "new" ..and all of this just seemed to start very suddenly, this past Saturday......out of the blue.
Guess we'll see. For those who've had back pain that was due to lung cancer, I wonder how you'd describe the pain? Sharp? Throbbing? Aching? Burning? Dull?
Mine is absolutely in the very middle of my back, on the very right side of my spinal column....including pain/tenderness right on the vertabra there.
My sister had an MRI from a neurosurgeon who diagnosed the bulging disc. It did not show the tumor. Please have a CT scan. The pain was intense for her and I believe she also described it as burning. She said it was like someone twisting a hot poker in her back. I think she said, though, that the pain was there all the time but it wasn't diagnosed until the chest CT scan so just demand one. It's worth it for your peace of mind. Also, lung cancer has only a 14% 5-yr. survival rate but for advanced lung cancer, it's more like 2% so don't fool around. You know your own body. I hope it is related to your old injury. Good luck, and let me know how the CT scan comes out.
Why should a smoker be concerned and afraid of getting a lung cancer when the first thing you have to do to not get a lung cancer is STOPPING SMOKING. You cannt value life if you smoke. And this is serious people. The dad of my coworker who died of lung cancer because of smoking she said that even in the bed awaiting for death he was wishing to have a cigarette. Its ubeliaveable.
Sorry if I overreacted guys but this is to worry, life is so beautiful and it makes me very sad to see how people waste their lives and look for death smoking.
My husband did not have ONE symptom...he went in for pnemonia and came out with stage four diagnosis.
DEMAND a CAT SCAN...I am VERY assertive w/my own physicians...and it WORKS...I refuse to tell me which tests they will run or not run...BULL...it is MY BODY, MY MONEY, MY DECISION...PERIOD. If a doctor were to refuse...I would fire that doctor and find one who will LISTEN. I get so mad at doctors!
I totally agree, Get a CT scan. My hubby broke a rib in Sept. After 6 xrays, including chest, and 7 different pain pills, The Dr. ordered a CT scan in March. When a mass showed up other than the broken rib another CT scan with bipsy showed Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma. I feel like we lost 6 months of treatments. After that, our family Dr. sent us to a cancer Dr. that has moved so fast we can hardly keep up. Please pray for us we will pray for you...
To MalifromPR, you obviously are not a smoker. That is like telling an alcohol to just quit drinking. Cigarettes are full of addictive drugs. I am watching my father deal with cancer now (and he still smokes because he enjoys it) and I am so stressed watching him I have actually smoked more to ease my nerves. You are right, but please be more sympathetic to those having a hard time quitting.
My father doctored for severe back pain as well and a bulging disc was one of his diganosis. We were shocked when a nuerosurgeon said it did not require surgery, how could it not with the pain he was in? He continued with physical therapy and useless pain meds to the point when my mother had him taken to another facility. My father did heavy lifting all his life and it was logical that he could have a back injury. But if there is any remote chance of cancer - you must get it checked, and as quickly as possible. Time is a very important factor with cancer.
Dad has been diagnosed with lung cancer metastasized to his back. He has compresion fractures as well and is being treated with morphine for pain very effectively.
Your comments are very offensive to me. The original poster came to the board looking for help, not a lecture. She is 34, and said she had been smoking for 15 years. She started at 19, when the last thing you are thinking about is the consequences of your actions because you are so young and you feel immortal. By the time she figured out the damage she was doing, she was addicted.
So, don't dare to imply that this scared woman doesn't value life, and say that she shouldn't be concerned about her life because she made a bad decision in her youth.
I'm sorry to lecture myself, but my Mother has lung cancer. She was a social smoker until her 30s, when she quit. She values life IMMENSLEY and is suffering greatly. She stopped smoking, but it didn't matter. So I take comments like yours not well at all. Besides having to deal with my mother's illness, I've also had to deal with people asking first off - "Did she smoke?" - not questions you get with breast cancer or any other cancers of how she is feeling, etc. When I say yes, they change their attitude to one of that she's getting what she deserves. Which is so sickening to me.
I got lung cancer at 38. I've had surgery and at times, life has been a nightmare since. I was at a stage 1a.
Until last month, when pet scan showed I was at a stage 4. They did surgery last week, again - but this time they came out and said "NO CANCER". They could find no cancer. Nothing there. All negative for cancer.
You can see the spots on the PET scan quite well. But they went in and *they're not there*.
I take that as an answer to many prayers - God has been very merciful with me, and I am so grateful. I want to live to raise my children.
I don't smoke anymore but when I smoked, it was during a time when smoking was a grownup thing to do - like drinking coffee, driving a car, shaving your legs. It wasn't looked at as an "addiction" or as a "drug" or as bad. Doctors had ashtrays in their waiting rooms and hospitals had ashtrays at their bedsides. It was the NORM.
I never dreamed I was addicted. I never dreamed people got lung cancer in their 30s and 40s. But they do, and I did.
My father quit smoking 20 years back - lung cancer got him anyway. Go figure.
It is very difficult to quit smoking - harder than quitting heroin and you have to be very very determined. I did a LOT of praying and finally gave over my will entirely for God to take and work with, to free me of it.
We give heroin addicts detox and rehab centers. Lots of help if they'll take it. Only recently have we had ANYthing to offer smokers to quit cigarettes. Cigarettes contain a drug - it is an addictive drug - smokers often need help to break free from the addiction - It is cruel that so many children have become addicted to this drug - legally - one day I hope it is illegal for all.
Helping someone to quit smoking - please be NICE to people for starters - that goes a long way. Lecturing about their lack of control over a physical addiction that makes them extremely uncomfortable doesn't help them or their efforts at all.
I have a passion for life - life has improved 188% since I quit smoking - I never dreamed it would be this nice - BUT - as long as I was addicted, I was certain life would be unbearable and miserable without the cigarettes. Thank goodness that wasn't the truth - it was the addiction talking.
Concerned about lungs? Smoked for 20 years or thereabouts? See a pulmonologist. Ask for a breathing test. Maybe a cat scan? Cat scan shows stuff much earlier than xray.
The only "symptoms" I had, basically, was getting bronchitis when I got a cold. I had bronchitis at least once each year, sometimes twice. Bronchitis is a sign of lung cancer.