Lung cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease in the UK, according to data from Cancer Research UK.

It accounts for around 13% of all new cases of the disease each year and every day around 130 people are notified that they have the disease.


Experts said there’s a symptom of lung cancer that could be seen in your fingers and fingernailsCredit: Alamy

While you may associate it primarily with your chest, experts say there’s one surprising symptom you might see on your hands.

Doctors at Cancer research in the UK says some people have swollen fingers and fingernails, also known as finger clubbing.

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

It’s unclear what causes the clubbing, but the charity’s research shows it may be due to large cells such as megakaryocytes, which get stuck in small blood vessels at the fingertips.

Official guidelines state: “Finger clubbing is unusual. If you think you might have it and are concerned, talk to your doctor.

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

“They can send you for tests if needed, like a chest X-ray to check your lungs.”

Although clubbing is a rarer symptom of lung cancerthe charity’s experts said there were nine that are most common in people diagnosed with the condition.

They are:

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

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

They said it’s always important to contact your GP if you have a new or worsening cough, as they can talk to you by phone or video call and arrange tests if you need them.

In some cases, you may also experience joint pain and swelling.

Although rare, doctors have said that certain types of lung cancer cells produce hormones that pass into the bloodstream.

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

Doctors call this syndrome paraneoplastic and symptoms can include:

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

Doctors have also warned that there is a very rare type of lung cancer that can develop at the very top of the lung, called a Pancoasr tumour.

Most people with this type of cancer will experience severe shoulder pain or pain that travels down the arm.

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

Affected individuals may experience drooping or weakness of an eyelid or a small pupil in the eye.

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

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

In an emergency, always call 999 or go to the nearest A&E department.