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Reminder of important clinical lesson
Metastatic breast disease: an all too common cause of back pain
  1. Doireann Joyce Medicine,
  2. Gerrard O’Donoghue,
  3. Michael Kerin
  1. University Hospital Galway, Surgery, Galway, Ireland
  1. Gerrard O’Donoghue, gerodonoghue{at}


A 50-year-old multiparous woman presented with a 3 month history of back pain. She was initially treated for non-mechanical back pain by her primary care physician, but was subsequently discovered to have a right sided clinical breast cancer and palpable axillary lymphadenopathy. An oestrogen/progesterone receptor positive invasive ductal carcinoma with axillary metastatic disease was confirmed on breast clinic triple assessment. Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine revealed an L1 vertebral body metastatic fracture with cord compression and other axial and non-axial stable skeletal metastases. The patient underwent immediate orthopaedic spinal stabilisation with full resolution of her back pain, and began primary endocrine breast cancer therapy with outpatient spinal radiotherapy planned.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Patient consent: Patient/guardian consent was obtained for publication.

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