Jean Williams Taylor of Wigan, England, posted a photo of her curved fingernail — growing downward at a sharp angle instead of straight out from the nail bed — asking if anyone had seen anything similar. A number of people responded advising her to seek medical care.
“I was urged to go to the doctor. A tad extreme I thought,” she wrote in a follow-up post on Facebook on Tuesday.
Taylor was then rushed for blood tests and a chest X-ray, she noted. Two days later, she was directed to go for a CT scan, and then a PET scan and more blood tests. That led to a breathing test, a heart scan, an MRI and a lung biopsy.
“After a gruelling (sic) 2 weeks, yesterday I got my results…….Cancer in both my lungs !!!!” Taylor wrote, adding she had no idea curved fingernails could be a symptom of lung disease. “Hope this post can help someone else in the early stages of cancer.”
Taylor did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
“It is a pretty characteristic finding and a good diagnostic clue to look at the lungs,” Rich told TODAY. “It probably has something to do with oxygenation of the tips of the digits, although there’s really no literature that explains it with 100 percent certainty.”
Clubbing often occurs in heart and lung diseases that reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood, the U.S. National Library of Medicine noted. Lung cancer is the most common cause, although congenital heart defects, chronic lung infections, celiac disease, liver disease, Graves’ disease and other conditions can also cause it.
“Not everybody with lung issues will get this, but if you have this, there’s a good possibility that you have a lung problem,” Rich said. “In other words, lots of people have lung cancer and don’t have this.”
What to look for:
All doctors, including primary care doctors, should be able to recognize the symptoms, not just nail specialists, Rich said. If you have clubbed nails, your doctor may order a chest X-ray and look for pulmonary problems.
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