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Rib cage pain

quiet witness
Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2008

I am on FolFox for stage III colon cancer. Just finished my second round three days ago. Last night my rib cage hurt so bad I couldn't sleep. Even breathing caused sharp pains in my chest and back. Anyone else have this side effect?

quiet witness
Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2008

Since no one responded, I can only deduce this side effect is not that common. The rib cage cramping did subside after a couple hours. I have had pneumonia on 5 separate occassions and that was a cake walk to the rib cage cramping. My onc says the cramping was due to FolFox

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. I've had FOLFOX twice. I never had this -- and I don't remember heearing of anyone else experiencing this either. I used to get stomach cramps a few days later -- but that was clearly digestive. Also, some people have throat symptoms (sore throat, harsh voice). but I've never heard of what you are described. Sorry -- it sounds very painful. Does your think you are OK to continue FOLFOX? Best wishes Tara

lizbiz's picture
Posts: 121
Joined: Aug 2008


I just completed my 6th treatment of FOLFOX and I have had *some* upper chest / back pain that definitely feels like lung pain. But it's more focal, not a general, all-over kid of pain and it doesn't last too long.

Every time I go in for treatment my nurses ask me, pointedly, if I'm having any chest pains. I've read that chest pain may indicate the existence of a more serious side effect of the chemo. I don't want to cause alarm but I would definitely say something to your Oncologist about this.

Good luck, I'll be praying for you!


Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2015

Hi  i have not taken FolFox and had finished my chemo and radiation in 2013 for ll stage breast cancer. I am having this rib cage pain and it is on the left side. It feels like my ribs are overlapping each other. I asked my oncologist about this and he knows nothing they say its scar tissue. But its not where I had surgery. The radiation has caused this as that was the last treatment I had in 2013. My primary doctor has done some rib cage and chest x-ray. Hopefully I will find out why this cramping keeps happening so often. It has become very uncomfortable.

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Sorry... you posted this early in the morning my time, so I didn't see it until now, hence no posting ;)

I can't say that I had any rib cage pain so I can't be of help there. I know I get leg pain and it almost feel muscular rather than joint or anything else. So, I think your mileage may vary and just as the disease is unique to everyone of us, so can the side affects of the treatments we are on. But I'm glad you told your doctor... whenever we experience any pain, it should be reported. My oncologist told me right at the start that the chemo drugs that we are given are extremely strong because they are poisons that we are introducing to our systems. Everyone will react differently depending on their own unique individual systems, immune systems, etc. But there are medications to combat most every side affect that can pop up, but unless we tell our oncologists what we are experiencing, they have no way of knowing since everyone can be so different.

So anytime you experience anything uncomfortable or you think is not normal... let your onc know and they are pretty darn good about fixing that! It's too bad cancer wasn't as easy to fix as the side affects are!



quiet witness
Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2008

I want to thank everyone that posted. One would think since we share so much in common genetically, that side effects would be similar. I did see my onc and my rib cage cramping was deemed to be muscular and not cardiovascular or lung related. Sharing my experiences with you makes me feel better. My family and friends really don't want to hear about it or if I do talk about my situation they seem to feel guilty they cannot make it go away. This was my second round of FOLFOX which was a bit tougher on me than the first but I am still standing. Thanks again to you for your support and kind words.

kimby's picture
Posts: 804
Joined: Oct 2007

I'm sorry I wasn't any help for you. It's important that you feel comfortable coming here - we all need someplace to download. I do understand about family and friends, too. It is so tough on them to here what's *really* going on because they love me and want to make it better. They don't understand, have no knowledge, are scared, and some just can't handle the real truth. We do. I hope you start feeling better soon.


lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006


I'm glad that they decided the pain is just muscular. Sounds like it was scary. I know that I have had pains when I was doing chemo that I thought was a heart attack. Panic at first and then decided to wait to see if got better or worse. HUGS.

I also found out here that sometimes the weekends are slow for posts. People out running around and not checking in as much. Keep us up to date with how you are doing.

Lisa F

Posts: 75
Joined: Sep 2008

Hello, I had rib cage pain after surgery and during first few months of chemo on upper left side but I attributed it to removal of my spleen during colon resect. Could have been chemo induced, I didn't ask anyone. Could have been the resection itself, don't know. I bet your spleen goes through hell with chemo maybe it's overworked but I'm no doctor so maybe the onc can help. Did have one severe bout with back spasms about 7th or 8th treatment. Don't know if it was chemo or painkillers. Just tell your Onc about it and explain in detail, surely he can identify the problem. Hope it gets better and hope and pray you get better too. Stay strong, love, Randy

Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2011

Hello quiet witness, My husband is experiencing the same rib cage pain. I see your post is from 2008. I just wanted to know how things proceeded aver the last 3 years? he was DXed with colon cancer T4N0M0 in July and has begun chemo this month.

Posts: 220
Joined: Dec 2009

If you have a schnauzer I hope it is a good nurse for your husband :-) Mine is for me.


Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2015

I too have the same pain. I had second stage breast cancer. I have been cancer free for three years now. I just recently over the past year have had this rib cage pain. No one can tell me why. My primary doctor just did a rib cage x-ray. I am waiting on the results when I go back for my follow up.

Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2015

I just recently joined and saw that this one member had experience rib cage pain. I finished my chemo and radiation in 2013 after being diagnosed in August of 2012. Since then, two years later I have had this rib cage pain. It feels like my ribs are locking ontop of each other or some sort of cramping. It is on my left side under my breast. I feel this whenever I lean forward or just sitting. When the pain starts I have to raise my arm and lean to the side to get the pain to stop. I have asked my oncologist about this and he says he doesnt know what it is. My primary doctor did a rib cage x-ray. Still waiting on what they come up with. They tried to say it was scar tissue. I read some place radiation can cause bone brittleness. Either way these symptons are not related to just being treated with chemo as I did experience bone pain and spasms in my lower back and bladder after Lunesta shots. This sympton is new and has occured years after my treatment was over. I am still searching for answers as to why I have this rib cage pain.

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