An otherwise healthy man with back pain and a hoarse voice was later found to have lung cancer.
The symptoms were caused by tumors on his spine that were interfering with his vocal cords.
Lung cancer can be tricky to catch, so see a doctor if you have persistent chest pain or coughing.
A fit, otherwise healthy 30-year old was found to have 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 that his symptoms started early this year and that he initially suspected COVID-19 after the holidays prompted a surge of coronavirus cases.
When symptoms persisted, and the back pain spread into a deep ache in his lower back, pelvis, and legs, Turko visited a walk-in clinic in February, he said.
After a series of tests, including a biopsy, chest X-ray, and CT scan, doctors eventually found a 4-inch tumor that they think probably started in January and grew rapidly, Turko told Today.
The tumor had wrapped around his pulmonary artery, and other tumors were growing along his spine and had spread to his lymph nodes, liver, 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?" he said. "Even now, in hindsight, who would be like: 'Oh, your back is in pain. You have lung cancer.'"
"Cancer doesn't discriminate, including against young people," Turko told Today. "Be vigilant with your health."
Lung cancer can have varied symptoms or no symptoms until advanced stages
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 — such as fatigue, cough, chest pain, difficulty breathing, unexplained weight loss, or loss of appetite — may be subtle or mistaken for other illnesses.
If symptoms such as coughing up blood don't ease or become more severe, it's important to see a doctor, the American Cancer Society says.
American Cancer Society further recommends that people who are at higher risk, such as smokers, or who have persistent symptoms should consider being screened early.
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. 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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