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Lung cancer: Finger clubbing could be an early risk indication – what is it?


The most common symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, chest pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath and feeling tired or weak. There is a lesser-known early warning sign found in your fingers.

There are also less obvious signs of lung cancer, such as a subtle change in the base of your nail.

According to Cancer Research UK, if the base of the nail (nail bed) becomes soft and the skin next to the nail bed becomes shiny, it could signal the first stage of finger clubbing.

Finger clubbing means specific changes in the shape of your fingers and fingernails – it is also called digital clubbing or hippocratic fingers.

Symptoms such as breathlessness and/or a persistent cough needs to be checked out by a GP.

Your healthcare professional is likely to discuss your general health and symptoms, followed by an examination with a spirometer.

A spirometer measures how much air you breathe in and out. And you may be asked to go for a blood test to rule out other health issues.

An X-ray of the chest is usually the first test to diagnose lung cancer, as most lung tumours appear on X-rays as a white-grey mass.

However, X-rays can’t distinguish between lung cancer and a lung abscess (a collection of pus in the lungs).


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