26th November 2019

Simple test for lesser known lung cancer symptom

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If you press your fingers together, is there a tiny diamond-shaped hole?

If there isn’t, then this could mean you have clubbed fingers, a lesser known symptom of lung cancer.

Whilst many people recognise a cough and breathlessness as signs of lung cancer, many are unaware that finger clubbing is one too, and yet it happens to 35% of people with non-small cell lung cancer and 4% of those with small cell lung cancer.

Finger clubbing is where the appearance of your fingers change, and become more curved or the ends get larger. Clubbing often occurs in heart and lung diseases that reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood, with lung cancer the most common reason for fingers to club.

It is important to remember that there are many reasons for finger clubbing so there is no need to panic. As with anything, if you have any concerns go and see your doctor.

Brian’s story

Brian was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer

Brian’s initial symptom was finger clubbing. At the time, he had no idea it was a sign of lung cancer. Fortunately, his doctor did:

“I had an absolutely phenomenal GP; the first thing he did was send me for a chest x ray. There was no going anywhere else, no delay, and at the same time he referred me to a respiratory consultant. This knowledge and decisiveness ultimately saved my life. I know so many others are not as lucky.”

Brian has since gone on to have curative surgery and retrained as a personal fitness instructor, working predominantly with cancer patients, to help them improve their fitness for both pre and post-surgery.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation comments:

“It’s quite scary how few people are able to recognise lung cancer symptoms; 20% of people in the UK are unable to name any lung cancer signs, let alone a more obscure one like finger clubbing.

“Symptom awareness is so important, and this simple little test could help people get diagnosed earlier like Brian.”

Lung cancer symptoms

There are many different symptoms of lung cancer including:

Persistent cough that lasts three weeks or more


Repeat chest infections

Chest and/or shoulder pain

Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss

Change in a long-term cough, or a cough that gets worse

Coughing up blood

Unexplained fatigue or lack of energy


Finger clubbing

Blood clots.

If you are experiencing any of these, please go to your doctor as soon as possible. Remember, lung cancer can affect anyone – men and women, young and old, smoker and non-smoker. The key to more positive outcomes is get diagnosed as early as possible.