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Q. Is back pain a common sign of lung cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Prathap
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 30, 2017 and last reviewed on: Aug 30, 2019

Hello doctor,

I am a 31 year old male, and I have back pain. I wanted to know about the possible association of back pain with lung cancer. I have been a smoker for the past 12 years. My daily consumption is about 6 to 10 cigarettes. I do not consume alcohol, and I do not chew tobacco and have no other addiction. I normally have home-cooked meals except lunch, and my diet includes some amount of vegetables almost every day and fruits at times. I hardly consume red meat and my consumption of spicy and oily food is limited to about once a week. I am overweight (113 kg and 6 feet tall). I do not exercise as such, but I normally walk about a kilometer or more every day.

I have been experiencing non-specific back pain (mostly upper back) since last year. My GP asked me to get a vitamin D test, and my result was 12.5. I was prescribed Uprise D3 60K once a week for three months, which I took as prescribed. For the last 7 to 10 days, I have been experiencing occasional mild back pain. The pain is not constant and not severe. Most of the times it occurs around the center of the back, slightly towards the right. And at times, it occurs at lower back. Sometimes, it occurs on the side, very rarely on the chest and near the right collarbone. I have no cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and loss of appetite. I do not feel any pain or anything unusual while inhaling deeply. The back pain, if present, is not worse during the night or while lying down.

I have had mild throat irritation for the past two weeks, which an ENT specialist checked and said is due to mucus dripping from the back of my nose into the throat. I have sinusitis. He prescribed me Lasma AB once a day for seven days, which I took and now the throat irritation is better, almost normal. I have been reading a lot on the net about back pain as an early sign of lung cancer, and it really scared me. Is back pain a common sign of lung cancer? If yes, what stage does it usually occur? Can only back pain occur with no other symptoms if it is lung cancer, or it is typically accompanied by other symptoms? What are the chances of my getting lung cancer, given the age and the history stated above? Thank you.

Dr. Prathap

General Medicine Internal Medicine


Welcome to

  • Back pain is not a common symptom of cancer lung. It can happen in a case of lung cancer with metastasis that is late stage. Your symptom is not related to cancer at all. It is due to strain.
  • Physiotherapy will cure your problem. At this age and your habits without a family history and exposure to carcinogens, the chances are very less. Get a chest x-ray if you still doubt.

For more information consult an internal medicine physician online -->

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Hi doctor,

Thank you so much for the prompt and valued response. How much does a family history of lung cancer matter? There is no instance of lung cancer in my immediate family in the past couple of generations. However, around 15 years ago, my father had sarcoidosis, which was cured with steroids, though he never smoked.

Dr. Prathap

General Medicine Internal Medicine


Welcome back to

  • Family history is an additive to risk. There is no specific percentage.

For more information consult an internal medicine physician online -->

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