The surprising cancer symptom on your nails – and 9 other signs you must not ignore


LUNG cancer is one of the most deadliest forms of the illness in the UK, data from Cancer Research UK states.

It accounts for around 13 per cent of all new cases of the disease each year and each day, around 130 people are told they have the illness.


Experts have said that there is a symptom of lung cancer that could be seen in your fingers and nailsCredit: Alamy

While you might associate it mainly with your chest area, experts say that there is a surprising symptom that you might see on your hands.

Medics at Cancer Research UK said some people have swollen fingers and nails, also known as finger clubbing.

In most cases, it might not be cancer, but the charity explained that the issue can be a sign of underlying health conditions present in the lungs and heart.

It’s not clear what causes the clubbing, but research from the charity shows that it may be due to large cells such as megakaryocytes, which get stuck in the small blood vessels at the tips of the fingers.

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Official guidance states: “Finger clubbing is unusual. If you think you might have it and are worried, do speak to your doctor.

“They can examine you and find out about any other symptoms you might have.

“They can send you for tests if necessary, such as a chest x-ray to check your lungs.”

While finger clubbing is a rarer symptom of lung cancer, the experts at the charity said there are nine that are the most common in those diagnosed with the illness.

They are:

  1. having a cough most of the time
  2. having a change in a cough you have had for a long time – it may sound different or be painful when you cough
  3. getting out of breath doing the things you used to do without a problem
  4. coughing up phlegm (sputum) with blood in it
  5. having an ache or pain in the chest or shoulder
  6. chest infections that keep coming back or a chest infection that doesn’t get better
  7. losing your appetite
  8. feeling tired all the time (fatigue)
  9. losing weight

The experts note that a cough is also a symptom of Covid-19.

They said that it’s still important to contact your GP if your have a new or worsening cough as they can speak to you over the phone or by a video call and arrange for tests if you need them.

In some cases you may also experience pain and swelling in the joints.

While it’s rare, the medics stated that some types of lung cancer cells produce hormones that go into the bloodstream.

They explained that these hormones can cause symptoms that don’t seem to be related to lung caner.

Doctors call this paraneoplastic syndrome and the symptoms may include:

  • pins and needles or numbness in the fingers or toes
  • muscle weakness
  • drowsiness, weakness, dizziness and confusion
  • breast swelling in men
  • blood clots.

The medics also warned that there is a very rare type of lung cancer that can grow right at the top of the lung, which is called a Pancoasr tumour.

Most people who have this type of cancer will suffer severe shoulder pain, or pain that travels down the arm.

These tumours can also cause a set of symptoms called Horner’s syndrome.

People with this might experience a drooping or weakness of one eyelid or a small pupil in the eye.

They may also experience a loss of sweating on one side of the face.

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It’s important that if you experience any unusual symptoms that you contact your GP.

In the event of an emergency, always call 999 or visit your nearest A&E department.

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