Stephen Fry features in NHS cancer awareness campaign
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Delays in cancer treatment caused by the pandemic mean backlogs in treatment could take years to clear. In fact, an estimated 19,500 people with cancer in England have not been diagnosed due to missed referrals during the pandemic. These alarming figures prompted the NHS to spread awareness of the early signs of the condition. One sign in the lower back, when accompanied by other symptoms, could signal that you have the disease.
The causes of back pain vary widely, but some red flag symptoms could suggest that the pain is stemming from something more serious.
Cancers of the stomach, colon, and rectum can all cause pain that radiates from the site of the tumour to the lower back.
When cancer pain spreads to other sites of the body such as the lower back, it will typically produce other overt symptoms.
Back pain accompanied by sudden unexplained weight loss, unexplained fatigue, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs should warrant immediate medical attention.
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Another red flag is back pain which doesn’t get worse with movement.
Another sign that back pain could originate from cancer is pain that worsens at night and in the morning but is otherwise hardly noticeable during the day.
One prevailing feature of cancer that causes it to spread to the spine is cancer that is metastatic, meaning it originated from a different part of the body.
The spine is the third most common site for metastatic cancer to reside.
The Harvard Health blog states: “Back pain is consistent and may become worse when you are lying down.
“Numbness, weakness or tingling of the legs that continues to get worse.
“If cancer spreads to the spinal nerves that control the bladder and bowel, there may be bowel or bladder incontinence.”
Another potential cause for lower back pain is bone cancer, which begins as tenderness that gradually progresses to persistent pain.
The NHS says: “Pain caused by bone cancer usually begins with a feeling of tenderness in the affected bone.
“This gradually progresses to a persistent ache or an ache that comes and goes, which continues at night and when resting.
“Any bone can be affected, although bone cancer most often develops in the long bones of the legs or upper arms.”
The health body points out that back pain that stems from cancer will often be accompanied by swelling and redness around the affected bones.
Inflamed skin or a lump can also be expected.
“See your GP if you or your child experiences severe or worsening bone pain, or if you’re worried you have any of the other symptoms of bone cancer,” adds the health body.
“While it’s highly unlikely that your symptoms are caused by cancer, it’s best to be sure by getting a proper diagnosis.”
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