Doctors explain how to spot ‘sinister cause’ of back pain

Cancerous back pain: Dr Amir outlines signs and symptoms

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Back pain is a common problem that affects around four in five Britons, leaving many backs across the country sore. While the majority of backaches will settle with simple treatments, sometimes there can be a “sinister cause” like cancer behind this common issue, according to Dr Hilary Jones. Fortunately, the ITV doctor joined forces with Dr Amir Khan to explain how to spot serious back pain.

From advanced cancer to pancreatic cancer, the deadly conditions often present in unexpected ways.

Worryingly, something as common as back pain could be a red flag sign, pointing to various cancers.

Now, if you’ve sat slouched in front of your computer for eight hours straight or hit the gym extra hard last night, it’s understandable your back feels achy.

When it comes to cancerous back pain, Dr Hilary and Dr Amir explained that you’re looking for unexplained aches that come hand in hand with other symptoms.

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Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, Dr Hilary said: “No more than one percent [of back pains] might be due to a sinister cause – bone cancers, aortic aneurysms, kidney problems. But these are rare.

“[These back pains] would be enduring; they would last more than four or five weeks.

“And there would be other symptoms associated with the back pain.”

Dr Amir added that especially people aged over 60 need to watch out for any new back pains and changes in their bodies.

He said: “Anyone over the age of 60 with new onset back pain – some of those rarer causes of back pain, the sinister causes that Hilary talked about there, are more common in people over 60 – [should see a GP].

“In men, we have to think about prostate cancer, whether it has spread to your lower back, and we will test for that if you’re over 60 with new unexplained back pain.

“In both men and women, you can get a bone marrow type of cancer called myeloma and we will check for that.

“And often the first symptom of that is back pain in older people.”

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Another group of people that needs to be especially careful about their back pains is former cancer patients.

Dr Amir said: “If you’ve got a past medical history of things like breast cancer or bowel cancer – and it might have been years and years ago you had them – but if you’ve got new back pain, always go and see your doctor.

“And if you’re worried, tell them ‘Could this be related to previous cancer’?”

While cancer can trigger back pain, both of the doctors agreed that this is rare and won’t be the case in the majority of back pain patients.

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