Viral Photo Shows How Fingernail Can Indicate Serious Health Condition

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook/Jean Williams Taylor

She just assumed her curved fingernails were a family trait

A grandmother of three is crediting her “ugly fingernails” and her daughter’s quick thinking for getting her to the doctor. Although the diagnosis was far from good news, finding her cancer early will give her a much better chance of survival; and the reason for catching it so quickly will surprise you.

Jean Taylor, 53, from Manchester, England said she’s had nails that have curved around her fingertips for as long as she can remember. So when she shared a photo of her fingernail on Facebook a few weeks ago, and a friend commented that she might want to see a doctor, she was surprised. After googling “clubbed nails,” her daughter urged her to see a doctor.

“2 weeks ago I posted this pic on my wall asking if anyone had seen nails like this,” Taylor wrote in a Facebook post. “A few google posts later and I was urged to go to the doctor.”

Taylor said she was given a blood test and chest X-ray and was called back in immediately for a CT scan, PET scan, MRI, and lung biopsy and was diagnosed with cancer in both lungs after two weeks of tests.

“The doctor sat us in a room and said ‘it’s not good news. You’ve got lung cancer.’ Even though I knew it was lung cancer, to actually hear it confirmed was something else,” Taylor told Manchester Evening News.

She said she thought her fingernails were just a family trait (her mom had them too) but when she received the diagnosis it all fell into place — her mom lost half her lung due to lung cancer years earlier. She says she had no idea that when nails curve, it’s often referred to as “nail clubbing” and can be linked to heart and lung disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nail clubbing happens when the tips of a person’s fingers enlarge, so the nail curves around the fingertip, usually over the course of years. “Nail clubbing is sometimes the result of low oxygen in the blood and could be a sign of various types of lung disease. Nail clubbing is also associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and AIDS.”

Of course, most of us have heard about symptoms like a persistent cough or chest infections, coughing up blood, breathlessness or loss of appetite as possible signs of lung cancer, but nail clubbing isn’t one of the more talked about symptoms.

Taylor, who has officially been diagnosed with stage one lung cancer said she shared her experience in the hopes it helps someone else in the early stages of cancer.

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