Lung cancer symptoms: The warning sign in your fingers that shouldn’t be missed

Lung cancer survival rates depend on how far the disease has progressed at the time of diagnosis. Spotting the signs of lung cancer early is imperative to ensure better chance of survival, and different signs can appear around the body. Certain symptoms may signal the cancer is now growing at the top of the lung and this is known as pancoast tumour. This affects a person’s face including sweating on the face and pupils and eyelids changing. There is another symptom which lies in a person’s fingers.


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Lung cancer symptoms don’t usually appear in the early stages and often only develop as the condition progresses.

Like all other cancers, there is currently no cure.

Spotting signs and symptoms makes it all the more crucial. 

Tumours in the lungs make a hormone-like chemical which pushes more blood and fluid to tissues in the body, and noticing swelling in a certain body part can be a warning sign. 

Having swollen fingertips could be a sign of lung cancer due to the amount of blood and fluid being pumped there. 

The skin next to the nails may also look shiny, or the nails may curve than usual when looked at from the side.

A condition known as finger clubbing is also strongly linked to lung cancer. It’s estimated around 80 percent of people who have finger clubbing also have the disease.


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What is finger clubbing?

Cancer Research UK said: “Finger clubbing means specific changes in the shape of your fingers and fingernails.

“It is also called digital clubbing or Hippocratic fingers. People with heart or lung problems have these changes.

“Finger clubbing happens in more than three out of 10 people with non small cell lung cancer but only about four out of 100 people with small cell lung cancer. You may also get it with mesothelioma.”


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In a study with the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, a painful finger was also cited as a possible sign of lung cancer.

The study noted: “An 83-year-old woman was seen with pain and swelling of the right middle finger since three months. A radiograph of this finger showed a lytic lesion of the proximal phalanx.

“A metastasis, primary bone tumour was considered. A computed tomography scan of thorax and abdomen showed two pulmonary tumours with mesenteric metastases.

“Due to the persistent pain in the right middle finger it was amputated. Pathological examination of the finger confirmed the diagnosis of an adenocarcinoma most likely to be a metastasis of lung cancer.”

“Clubbing is thought to be caused by fluid collecting in the soft tissues at the ends of the fingers.

“This is caused by more blood flowing to the area than usual. But we don’t fully understand why this happens,” added Cancer Research UK.

Other signs to look out for with lung cancer include drowsiness and confusion, severe headaches, often with sickness and weakness of an arm or leg.

Signs the cancer has spread include a discomfort in the tummy, poor appetite, a swollen tummy or itchy skin. 

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