Lung cancer: Do your fingers look a certain way? Sign of risk found in shape and size

Gaby Roslin features in NHS lung cancer awareness campaign

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Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. Treatment success is largely determined by the size of the cancer and how far it has spread from the lungs. In other words, the earlier it is picked up, the better.

Clubbing occurs when the amount of soft tissue beneath the nail beds increases.

Clubbing occurs in some lung disorders such as lung cancer, lung abscess, pulmonary fibrosis and bronchiectasis  

Clubbing also occurs in some congenital heart disorders and liver disorders. In some cases, clubbing may be inherited and not indicate any disorder.

A sign warning of something which is potentially wrong with your lungs includes clubbing, said the British Lung Foundation.

The health site added: “You or your doctor may notice your nails changing shape to become like a drumstick: the tips of the fingers get bigger and the nails curve around the finger tips, and the base of the nail feels spongy.

“Clubbing can also occur with other lung conditions, and as a result of heart or liver disease.”

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Finger clubbing may reveal itself on the fingers by:

  • Widening and increased roundness of your nails
  • Increased angle between your cuticles and nails
  • Downward curving of your nails
  • Softening of your nail beds, which makes your nails seem like they’re floating
  • Enlarging or bulging of the tip of your fingers or toes, which may be accompanied by redness or warmth

The NHS lists the other symptoms of lung cancer you need to know which include:

  • A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
  • A long-standing cough that gets worse
  • Chest infections that keep coming back
  • Coughing up blood
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Persistent tiredness or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss

Most of the underlying conditions that cause clubbing are serious, and early diagnosis and treatment may improve a person’s outlook.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any signs of clubbing of your toes or fingers.

In some cases, your toes or fingers may return to their normal shape once your underlying medical condition has been treated.

Some of the conditions that cause clubbing can be cured, some are chronic but manageable, and some are harder to treat.
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