AROUND 47,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year making it the second most common cancer in the UK.
But now a simple test with your fingers may be able to show whether you are at risk of lung cancer.
Doctors are urging people to take the “diamond gap” finger test, which involves putting your nails together to see if there’s a diamond-shaped space between your cuticles.
If there isn’t space, this is a sign of finger clubbing – which is a common symptom of lung cancer.
Nail or finger clubbing is characterised by specific changes around and under the toe and fingernails that are caused by certain diseases.
According to Cancer Research UK, finger clubbing happens in more than 35 per cent of people with lung cancer.
Among various types of thoracic cancers, lung cancer is responsible for about 80% of nail clubbing cases.
It tends to happen in stages with the base of the nail becoming soft and the skin next to the nail bed becoming shiny before the nails begin to curve more than normal.
The ends of the fingers may also get larger as a result of this too.
It’s thought to be caused by increased blood flow to the finger area, leading to the accumulation of fluid in the soft tissues at the ends of the fingers – but it’s not entirely clear why this happens.
It comes after a grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer after spotting she had clubbed nails.
Jean Taylor had brushed off her “ugly” nails as nothing more than an embarrassing trait before getting her devastating diagnosis.
She is now urging people to take the diamond gap finger test, also known as the Schamroth window test so that people can catch lung cancer early.
It’s worth noting that finger clubbing doesn’t necessarily mean you definitely have lung cancer – and there are lots of reasons why your fingers may present this way.
Despite this, it is important to rule out cancer so make sure you see your GP as soon as possible to establish the cause.
Unfortunately, lung cancer is often diagnosed late because it doesn’t usually cause noticeable symptoms until it has spread through the lungs or into other parts of the body.
This means that for many people the cancer has already spread when they are diagnosed.
In general, about one in three people with the illness live for at least a year after they’re diagnosed and about one in 20 people live for at least ten years.
However, it is worth noting that survival rates can vary widely, depending on how far the cancer has spread at the time of diagnosis –early diagnosis can make a big difference.