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British Lung Foundation
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Lung Cancer

I was talking today to a friend who lost her husband through lung cancer last year. By the time he was diagnosed he was stage 4. He didn't really get any symptoms except losing a bit of weight and a hacking cough, but his consultant told them something very interesting which I would like to share with you.

I think we all know that clubbing of the fingertips can be a sign of respiratory problems, but apparently nails that bend right over are an early sign. This includes toenails as well. This chap had has this for a good couple of years before diagnosis but had never sought medical advice - I don't think most people would, would they? But I think this is definitely worth knowing about.

I am not saying that this has to be lung cancer coz I don't know, but it is a sign that things aren't right in the lung department, so if any of you have this and don't know the cause I would get it checked out.

Cal2 x

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49 Replies

Hi my nails bend over I have asked various medical people why they just say , it's lack of oxygen so where do I go from there .

.take care


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Hi Dorothy it is respiratory related and I know you are pretty severe. This man was diagnosed with a chest x-ray so I presume you have regular ones? x

Yes have chest X-rays that's when they found pleural thickening. When I have seen different consultants respiratory nurses I have mentioned my nails Wouldn't just go too the doctors and say hay my nails are bending lol

Take care


Hi can't get the link to work but google this

Nail abnormalities - NHS Choices x


A blood count? I think you can get one reasonably priced privately - we shouldn't have to do that but if GPs aren't listening .....

Interesting Coughalot. My toenails drop off regularly. Strangely one comes loose shortly followed by the same toe on the other foot! Weird or what. It's been happening for years but there have always been more important lung problems to take to the GP.

Sad about your friend's husband though xx


Thank you peege. The site covers nails dropping off. x


Thank you tisBAme. Don't know why it wouldn't work for me. xx

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Jeez itsBarme, that site is pretty gross. Did you have a look?

'Tis a bit isn't it? :) x

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Interesting Cal. It seems the fingernails can help diagnose numerous health problems. I was wondering what brand oximeter you have. I don't think mine is accurate.


Will let you know when I find it Ruby! Seem to have misplaced it. Mine was only cheap at £20 so no guarantee it is always accurate, but I did test it at my last review and it was fine. x

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Thanks for your interesting and informative post cough. Sad to hear about your friend's dh.

love cx

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Thanks cofdrop. I wasn't sure about posting it coz I thought it might scare people, but if my friends hubby had known about this he could have been treated much earlier and probably survived. Apparently though his nails were bendy they were also quite thick too. x

It was a young female Chinese Consultant that noticed my nails and ordered a test for Alpha1 AD a .couple of years ago and it was only the second time I'd seen a Consultant in 9 years since diagnosis....anybody else have clubbing I wonder 😃🌻🌹

Hi Huff I was diagnosed with clubbing of the fingers years ago when I first had a bout of chronic Bronchitis, did not even know what it was, thought clubbing was going to the night club after work :) :)


Ha ha :) x

I don't huff but in future I will keep a close check on my nails. Lung cancer is something I do worry about. x

Hi Bev, now I know why the nurses were looking at my toe nails when I was last in hospital, I thought they were admiring my black nail varnish! 😻

:) :D x

Thanks for that - very helpful. x


You are welcome. x

Thanks for the info Coughalot, sorry to hear the sad news about your friends loss of her husband so suddenly. The clubbing is lack of oxygen I believe but it would seem the nails are effected too, know my toe nails are in an awful state but put it down to age, my finger nails aren't much better either, blue and split just thought it was poor vitamin levels or circulation would not want to bother a dr with something so minor in my way of thinking but as you say it could be an early sign of something more serious. Take care and my deepest sympathy to your friend xx

Hi Katie well it is the clubbing of the fingers and the nails growing bent. My friend said they had been like that for a couple of years before his diagnosis. If only they have known to see the doctor.... x

True, but would the doctor have taken it serious one wonders ..x

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I reckon s/he would. It's funny but he was diagnosed with copd around 6 months before his diagnosis of cancer. I presume he had an x-ray then. I must find out from my friend. x

surely if he had an xray for copd it should have shown a stage four cancer of the lung perhaps they felt it was not wise to take away the patients hope not good is itx

It would have Katie which is why I am confused! Maybe he didn't have an x-ray coz he went to the same surgery I do and I wasn't given one on diagnosis either. Will have to check with my friend. x

I had an xray which showed a doubtful area which had to be watched for two years, in between I had a scan which suggested COPD. I also had a bronchoscope to eliminate lung cancer. I was discharged back to Gp after two years so your story about your friends situation sounds very suspect. Remiss if they did xray not to tell the patient. Know that's not the point right now, your post was made as a warning to others. But Sadly as the daily mail this week noted sometimes cancers get missed, seems like that's what has happened in your friends case. She may need a lot of support if she realizes what has happened in respect of her husband, there will be what ifs that need answers. x

Oh they wouldn't have done an x-ray and not told them the results. But they obviously hadn't checked his nails but then they never have mine either.

I have a hacking cough too - and my friends hubby was still smoking at the time. All I got told was to stop smoking whilst he (backed up with his wife and being a man maybe?) was taken seriously. He wasn't told 'Oh it's just the copd' like me. x

Are you worried that COPD can be used as a diagnosis without proper tests to confirm ? Because that is what BLF are trying to erradicate. Or are you just concerned that conditions of the nails are not being taken into account when mentioned to the GP ? Or that people don't realize the nails could mean something more serious? Anyway it is getting late now time for bed chat again soon have a good night and don't let anyone fob you off if you are worried xx

Yes Katie I think doctors are much too quick to diagnose just copd on hearing of smoking history, and never consider anything else. As we all know early diagnosis is very important.

I think if this man's doctor had bothered to check his nails s/he might have realised there was a problem sooner and not just copd, which he had been diagnosed with some months before.

I put the info on because whilst I knew about clubbing I didn't know the thick bendy nails bit. I figured others might not know either. x

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I only became concerned about my finger nails and toe nails in the past year....they were 'spooning' a bit (dipping in the middle ) and some were 'clubbing' I Googled it and found the various websites you mention Coughalot.

Like Peege, I had other 'lung' things to take to the doctor, but had been bothered by various nail problems for quite a few years before my COPD diagnosis.

Sorry about your friend's husband.

Thank you Lolly2 x

Hi my friend said the nails were quite thick but grew bendy. x

Initially, I was so pleased that my nails were getting thicker, as they used to be brittle and break a lot. Now they are thick and bendy. I keep them very short now as they catch my skin, which is very fragile from taking steroids. If it's not one thing, it's another these days! x

I've seen two people with nails like that. The first one was yrs. ago. I'm always fascinated with medical stuff and noticed the tips of his fingers were rounded , not just the nails. There it was, anyon aA lungs or heart. The second one was told he needed to go on oxygen.

( which he refused ) . His nails were yellow and thick growing down over his fingertips. Very yucky looking. Since I learned that , I do tend to notice people's fingernails. Theres also something about creases in the earlobe

and heart trouble. Anyone hear that one? 😊.xx

Never heard that one Ruby! Having said that I know I will be looking at everyones nails in future :) x

Hi cough, my nails are fine, both toe and finger. I do know that Doctors always checked my finger nails. I have no clubbing.

After my diagnoses of COPD then Empysema I was doing well. Weight gained, stats fine. First sign of anything wrong was coughing blood. Very very small amounts just a dot. By the time of diagnoses I was stage 4.

So please please anyone with lung problems pester and pester for at least regular CTscans,

Love Suzyxxx


No one ever looked at my nails but then I only have mild copd. If they ever get like that though I will be up the doctors so fast your head would spin :) x


Thank you Coughalot - I la up any information, so please don't worry about us being scared.....I think we all need to know as much as possible and then decide what to do with the info. Stay well :)

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I thought the information was important enough in the end to run the risk of scaring us all silly. After all if just one person gets that and has it checked out then it is worth it isn't it? x


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I'm going to be really stupid and ask what does 'clubbing' look like?

I didn't know either. Scroll through here nhs.uk/conditions/nail-abno...

tx for interesting post coughxx

Oh well done thank you. x

Excellent! Thank you...according to the info my horrible nails are caused by wearing nail varnish...lol

Oh dear x

Can't get a link to work vashti but google it. x

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