Cancer: The ‘early’ sign on the tips of fingernails indicative of fast-spreading cancer

Dr Chris discusses CT scans detecting lung cancer

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Cancer is a catchall phrase referring to a group of diseases caused by the rapid and uncontrolled proliferation of cells. The NHS has recently boosted efforts to raise awareness of the signs of the disease in a bid to curtail death rates over the next few years. It encourages patients who do pick up on unusual changes to take up screening services to boost their chances of curative treatment. One symptom of lung cancer in the fingers is an often-overlooked sign of the disease.

Lung cancer has a notorious reputation for being the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women.

“Lung cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that spreads rapidly,” according to Medical News Today.

“Survival rates are improving but remain low, particularly for SCLC.

“Early diagnosis and treatment improve a person’s chances of living for five years or longer with lung cancer.”

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In fact, the disease accounts for up to a quarter of all cancer deaths, with more people dying from lung cancer than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

It is widely known that smoking causes lung cancer, but people who have never smoked can also develop the condition.

In fact, passive smoking and exposure to radioactive gas and pollution have all been recognised as risk factors for lung cancer too.

“If you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker,” explains the NHS.

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The signs associated with the disease typically include coughing, persistent breathlessness and receptive chest infections.

Unfortunately, the disease doesn’t produce overt symptoms in the initial stages, making it difficult to pick up while it’s still treatable.

But in some instances, signs of the condition may arise in the tips of the fingers.

“Lung cancer, extensive lung scarring (pulmonary fibrosis), and cystic fibrosis often are associated with nail ‘clubbing’,” explains Harvard Health.

Nail clubbing occurs when the tips of the fingers enlarge and the nails curve around the fingertips.“Here, the nails take a raised, rounded appearance, like a club,” adds the health body.

“However, healthy people can have clubbing too, as it also runs in families.”

According to the Roy Castle Lung cancer Foundation, finger clubbing is sometimes seen in as many as 35 percent of people with non-small cell lung cancer, and in four percent of those with small cell lung cancer.

The Foundation cites the case of a lung cancer patient called Brian Gemmell, who said that recognising finger clubbing as a symptom of lung cancer saved his life.

“I was not feeling ill. I was feeling healthy,” Brian recalled.

“My one and only symptom was clubbing of the fingers, where all your fingers swell up and when you put your fingers together you can’t see a diamond.”

The foundation adds that swelling in the ends of the finger could occur at any stage of the disease, including the early stages. Although the cause of clubbing remains unknown, researchers believe it may result from increased blood flow to the body’s extremities.

“This could lead to the accumulation of fluid in the fort tissues at the terminal portion of the finger and subsequent building of the area,” explains News Medical.

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