Fingernail clubbing

My Story. In November of 2011 I went to get a manicure. The tech told me how strong my nails were and kinda curvy. I took notice, my nails had never had any curve to them. I went to see my Dr in April and asked about this. She talked about clubbing, but said I did not appear to have that problem. I was completely symptom free, healthy, exercise regularly, non smoker. I was dismissed. In October I returned to the dr for an unrelated issue. Again pointed out my nails, again no other symptoms of any kind of illness at all. She looked at my nails and sent me for an X-ray that day. Then on to a CT scan, bronchoscopy (that came back negative), pet scan, CT led needle biopsy, brain MRI, and bone scan. All done over a 1.5 month span. Diagnosis, lung cancer, non small cell stage 1b. I had a lobectomy done on Dec 27. Ended up being no big deal at all for me, thankfully. The surgeon did it with the VATS method. No further treatment is needed, I was told. I asked to see X-rays and scans, because I needed to actually see my cancer, because I was the picture of health, and had to wrap my head around the fact I had cancer. So I have told anyone I can, pay attention to your body. Also, I really feel my pcp should have requested the X-ray the first time I showed her my nails, or I should have insisted. My surgeon said nail clubbing is always a sign of lung or heart distress. I have learned the hard way to really be my own health advocate. It is believed the cancer had been there several years.

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It is a blessing that you pushed for your own future health. I tell you, we have to be our own advocate. I am here today because I pushed for answers. I have read about the nail clubbing and frankly did not have that symptom. I know however that the nails are a window into our health. Mine have always been flaky. really just flacks of layers. Now post chemo, I have two nails on both thumbs that have splits going vertically. Uggg.

Thank God you know your body. Keep listening to it. You very well saved your life. Celebrate and thank God for that.
Julie JB

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I have a friend who was alerted to this warning sign by an RN who happened to be sitting next to her at her manicurist. Thank God she spoke up. My friend had surgery and is still here more than 15 years later.

So glad you're doing well.

Toes

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I'm glad you kept advocating for yourself. I, too, have finger naill clubbing.
My pulmonary dctr nticed this as well as lines at the nail bed as he said
It shws hw stressed and sick yur bdy is.
Best
Lu

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A year ago when I was 1st diagnosed, a doctor looked at my hands and mentioned how my fingers were clubbed. Nothing to do with the nails, but the fingers themselves actually change shape, flatten out instead of "pointy", due to oxygen shortage.

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So interesting and Thank you for sharing. I have heard of this as well.
When you say curvy do you mean the actual nail on the top of it is curvy or wavy??
Thanks again

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This worries me. My fingers are simi clubbed been that way a good while, they were that way last yr when i had my chest xray but xray was clear. I have been picking at my fingers for years can other things cause this and what all are they?

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Thanks for the replies and encouragement. In my case my "clubbing" was curving fingernails. By this I mean the actual nail bed began to be puffy, causing my nails to grow downward, I call it curving down around my fingertip. For me it actually looks normal, I get compliments on my nails. The nail bed is smooth. Clubbing can also involve the actual shape of your fingertip changing shape, becoming wider and or flattened. This is my explanation of it. I know it can also alert you to heart disease. I am very thankful for it though, because it drew my attention. I am most thankful to God. My Dr's and nurses were/are amazed by how this was caught. But so many people find out about lung cancer by "accident" I am finding out.

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Thank you for responding..
Prayers going out to you..
Brenda

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I always had very narrow fingernails. I watched the clubbing develop right before my eyes shortly before I was diagnosed. I didn't show the doctor and they didn't look (they later said they didn't check because clubbing usually only occurs when you've had an O2 saturation in the 70s for a sustained amount of time (which I don't believe)). After 4-6 weeks on Xalkori they "uncurved". Now they're wider than they originally were and actually look better. Go figure.

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My daughter's father-in-law is an md and told her to tell me to go to the doctor because my fingers were clubbed. Went, and that started my journey of URL, chemo and radiation. Have been NED since 8/08. Clubbing is definitely a sign of cardio/pumonary disease.

http://www.umm.edu/imagepages/18127.htm

Cheryll

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I have been monitoring this site since my mother's diagnosis 9/12. This is my first post. My mother has stage IV NSCLC poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma with EGFR expression and KRAS mutation. She has two mets to her brain and a tiny little spot on her adrenal gland.

Strangely this topic is my Achilles heel. I am just kicking myself for not being more persistent when I noticed her fingers looked different during a visit 5/12. I was shocked to see the shape of her fingertips had changed. She had no symptoms what so ever of LC and I just attributed it to arthritis. She was the picture of a healthy senior with minor age related ailments. We didn't start putting the pieces together until her brain mets started causing mobility issues.

The only reason I knew about clubbing of the fingers was because I read about it 17 years ago when her sister was diagnosed with LC. My aunt did not have clubbing, but it stood out to me as an unusual symptom. I know I can't go back in time and make a big stink about it now, but I feel so guilty knowing what I know now and not being more persistent. What was the point of me stumbling across this information all those years ago and then not do anything with it!

Her cute little toes are clubbed too. She is handling treatment well and we are pleased with the results thus far. It looks to me like the clubbing has subsided a bit, or I am just used to it now.

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Be glad she is doing well. My prayers are with her and for you. Don't be so hard on yourself...clubbing is one of those wierd things you forget about til mentioned again. We don't want to see you getting ill if you end up blaming yourself. You are there for her. That's what counts. My Mom died from cancer 3 years ago and it was way too late to do anything. Yes, I was the caregiver and at times wonder if there was more I could have done. She never complained of ANYTHING.
Be well.

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i had no symptoms at all - i had to lie to get a CT scan - I was listening to my body and I was 2b/3a. I too had VATS and Chemo - you must listen to your body and you must speak up - don't let anyone tell you that you are fine if you don't think you are..

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Would one of the responders to this post share what their typical oxygen level was when the clubbing was noticed?

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The first time I met with the onc (and I was pretty symptomatic), I think it was 97 or 98%. I would think if your 02 sat is in the 70s, you are having major difficulties. But I'm not a doctor and know nothing.

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97-98 is norrmal. 70s is very low. I do not not what my 02 was when diagnosed but I do know that about a year prior, I was at a health fair and a nurse did CO2 and was shocked. She asked me if I just had a cigarette. I did not. I suppose a major flag should have gone up then, but it didn't.

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Sorry, janma, i saw your earlier post only after I posted my question.

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My point was that even with an O2 sat of 97 or 98, I developed clubbing. And even as I watched it develop, I stayed in denial, still wanting to believe my symptoms were from something else.

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My O2 levels are in the normal range, and always have been right up till surgery.

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What is it about medicine that we have to follow up, go around or end play the docs. NOT our job! Not everyone is savvy enough to do this. I thought I was but became very wrong. I was dead from the start. Radiologist should have just gotten gun a shot me. My friends and relatives think it's great that I lived 4 plus miserable years. But to what end........................I am merely occupying space not living.

Cheers and good thought to everyone even those who cannot make it.

C

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