A U.K. woman was left shocked after she discovered her curved fingernail was actually a sign of lung cancer.
Jean Williams Taylor, a grandmother in the U.K., posted a photo of her bent nail on Facebook, asking friends and family if they had seen anything like it.
The image, which has now gone viral, promoted the 53-year-old to contact her doctor — after several commenters told her she should get the nail checked out. Her stepdaughter, Manchester Evening News reports, also urged Taylor to seek medical condition after she Googled curved nails and found links to cancer and other diseases.
“Two weeks ago I posted this picture on my wall asking if anyone had seen nails like this,” she wrote on an updated Facebook post. “A few Google posts later and I was urged to go to the doctor. A tad extreme I thought.”
She continued she was rushed for blood tests and a chest X-ray, and two days later, she was called in for a CT scan, PET scan and more blood tests.
“The day later a breathing test on my lungs and a scan on my heart, the day later an MRI scan then a lung biopsy.”
She explained after two weeks, the results showed she had cancer in both of her lungs. “When your nails curve it’s often linked to heart and lung disease and its official term is ‘clubbing,’ I had no idea.”
What is nail clubbing?
Manchester Evening News reports Taylor just thought she had an “ugly” nails and they were genetic — her mother had them too.
“I’d been working in a factory so my nails were really short. I got an office job about six weeks ago and they decided to grow,” she told the paper. “I’ve always had weak nails and I’ve never got them to this length because they were never strong and I was working in a factory. But now I think I could knock a nail in with them.”
Nail clubbing, according to the Mayo Clinic, is when the tips of the fingernails enlarge and curve around the finger as they grow. This often takes a few years of growth.
“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,” the site notes.
Dr. Phoebe Rich, director of the Nail Disorders Clinic at Oregon Health and Science University, recently told Today.com it can happen on your hands and toes, and often, it is a sign of a lung condition.
“It is a pretty characteristic finding and a good diagnostic clue to look at the lungs,” Rich told the site. “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 per cent certainty.”
ITV This Morning’s Dr Chris Steele, Express U.K. reports, said the nail itself doesn’t go back to normal.
“When the doctor is looking at you, they’ll see things you don’t see,” he told the morning show. “They aren’t signs you definitely have a disease, they’re just clues.”
Experts note if you do notice any changes in nail growth, talk to your family doctor as soon as you can.