Changes to your fingernails and toenails that could signal cancer

Skin cancer: Dr Chris outlines the signs of a melanoma

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Spotting the signs of cancer as soon as possible can mean the difference between surviving the disease and not. While there are some general symptoms of the disease that can occur regardless of the form of cancer you have, others are more specific. These could even affect your fingernails and toenails, an expert has said.

Bill McKenna, founder of Cognomovement, spoke exclusively with to explain more.

He warned of changes to the colour of nails, as well as a “dark stripe” or “streak” under the nail.

“One unusual cancer symptom that people may not be aware of is changes in the appearance or colour of the fingernails or toenails,” he said.

“While changes in the appearance of the nails can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fungal infections or trauma to the nail, they can also be a sign of underlying cancer.”

Skin cancer

He continued: “One type of cancer that can cause changes in the nails is skin cancer. Melanoma, a type of skin cancer, can sometimes appear as a dark or changing mole on the skin, but it can also present as a dark stripe or streak under the nail.

“This is known as subungual melanoma.

“Other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can also cause changes in the nails.”

According to Cancer Research UK, other signs of skin cancer to look out for are listed below.

A sore that doesn’t heal – It could appear see through, shiny and pink or pearly white. It could also look red, and it might be sore, rough and have raised edges.

Ulcer – This could be an area of skin that has broken down and doesn’t heal within four weeks.

A lump – It might be small, slow to grow, shiny and pink or red.

Red patches on your skin – They could be ithcy. Although they could be due to other non-cancerous conditions it is worth getting them checked.

Freckles or moles – Any change to a mole or freckle could be a sign of a type of skin cancer called melanoma.

What should I do if I notice a change in my nails?

Mr McKenna said: “If you notice any changes in the appearance or colour of your nails, it is important to see a healthcare provider for further evaluation.

“While these changes may be caused by a variety of factors, it is important to rule out cancer as a potential cause.

“A healthcare provider will be able to perform an examination and, if necessary, order additional tests to determine the cause of the changes in the nails.

“If you are experiencing other symptoms in addition to changes in the nails, such as unexplained weight loss, persistent fatigue, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, it is especially important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible, as these may be signs of cancer or other serious health conditions.”

Nails could also change their appearance due to cancer treatments.

The American Cancer Society says: “Usually the treatments that cause nail changes are medications, but radiation can also cause nail changes.

“Different treatments can affect normal cells, like nail cells, in different ways. And their side effects can also affect nails differently. One, two, a few, or all of your nails could be affected by changes.”

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