NewsA sign that cancer is attacking the lungs. Your fingernails' appearance is a first sign

A sign that cancer is attacking the lungs. Your fingernails' appearance is a first sign

Clubbed fingernails
Clubbed fingernails
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4:08 PM EDT, October 8, 2023, updated: 2:25 AM EDT, October 9, 2023

The appearance of our fingers often reflects the state of our health. One of the clearer signs of disease is the appearance of so-called clubbed fingers, which may indicate lung cancer. What are the characteristics of clubbed fingernails?

Definition and characteristics

Clubbed fingers (or clubbed fingernails) - also known as drummer's fingers or Hippocrates's fingers - are the result of an overgrowth of connective tissue under the nails, resulting in a change in the appearance of the hands.

The fingertips widen, and the nails deform, becoming raised and convex. Despite visual changes, patients do not feel pain in the area of the disease-changed fingers.

Clubbing of the fingers can be bilateral or unilateral. Changes occur in stages.

Lung cancer

Although the exact mechanism of clubbed fingers has not yet been definitively explained, this symptom often accompanies diseases leading to long-term hypoxia - including, among others, lung cancer.

Clubbed fingers appear in 35 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer and in 4 percent of patients with small cell lung cancer.

Other symptoms of lung cancer include a prolonged cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, wheezing breath, shortness of breath, hoarseness, swelling (of the face or neck), loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and apathy.

Other causes of clubbed fingers

Other reasons for the appearance of clubbed fingers include:

- chronic inflammatory lung diseases (COPD, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary tuberculosis),

- circulatory system diseases (leading to peripheral parts of the body being under-oxygenated),

- gastrointestinal diseases: unspecified inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), liver diseases,

- Endocrinological and rheumatic diseases: e.g., hyperparathyroidism, acromegaly, psoriatic arthritis.


Noticing clubbed fingers should push us towards diagnosis, which will allow us to determine the cause of this condition.

It is crucial to understand that the treatment of clubbed fingers primarily involves therapy for the condition that led to the appearance of this symptom.

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