An otherwise healthy man with back pain and a hoarse voice was later diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
The symptoms were caused by tumors on his spine that were interfering with his vocal cords.
Lung cancer can be tricky to detect early, so see a doctor if symptoms like chest pain and coughing persist.
A fit, otherwise healthy 30-year old was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer after experiencing back pain and a hoarse voice, TODAY reported.
Jordan Turko, an entrepreneur who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, told TODAY his symptoms started in early 2022, and he initially suspected COVID-19, since the holidays has prompted a recent surge of cases related to the omicron variant.
When symptoms persisted, and the back pain spread into a deep ache in his lower back, pelvis, and legs, Turko said he visited a walk-in clinic in February.
A series of tests, including a biopsy, chest X-ray, and CT scan eventually revealed a 4-inch long tumor that likely started in January and grew rapidly, doctors told Turko.
The tumor had wrapped around his pulmonary artery, and others were growing along his spine and had spread to his lymph nodes, his liver, and pelvis and leg bones.
Turko said he was previously in excellent health, exercised six days a week, and was a fan of hot yoga, so the diagnosis was a shock.
“Who would have guessed that? Even now, in hindsight, who would be like, ‘Oh, your back is in pain. You have lung cancer,'” he said.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate, including against young people. Be vigilant with your health,” Turko told TODAY.
Lung cancer can have varied symptoms or no symptoms until advanced stages
Noticeable symptoms of lung cancer may not appear until the illness has progressed, unlike other form of cancers that are easier to spot (and treat) early, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
In some cases, symptoms of cancer may be subtle or easily mistaken for other illnesses, such as fatigue, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, unexplained weight loss, or loss of appetite.
If symptoms don’t ease or become more severe, such as coughing up blood, it’s important to see a doctor, according to the American Cancer Society.
People at higher risk, such as smokers, or with possible recurring symptoms should consider being screened early, according to the American Cancer Society.
The persistent hoarse voice that Turko experienced can be a common symptom of lung cancer, caused by the tumor impinging on nerves of the vocal cord, causing paralysis. If untreated, the tumor in his spine may have also caused more widespread paralysis, doctors worried, prompting them to recommend emergency radiation treatment.
Cancer symptoms can sometimes be overlooked in young patients, including people in their 20s and 30s, Insider previously reported.
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