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Can changes in your fingernails alert you to serious health issues?

Woman's fingernails lung cancer signIt did for one British woman, who found out she had cancer after posting a photo of her strange fingernails online.

The photo showed curved fingernails that were growing downward at sharp angle instead of straight out from the nail bed. The woman posted it online, asking her social media followers if they knew what caused it. A large number of people urged her to seek medical help immediately.

Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Moffitt thoracic oncologist Dr. Tawee Tanvetyanon says if the nail condition, called clubbing, is new, “it’s a good opportunity to alert oneself that there may be some changes going on in the body.”

Tanvetyanon says it is rare for lung cancer to cause clubbing, but when it does it can be “dramatic” and is usually accompanied with joint pain, especially in the fingers.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, clubbing often occurs when diseases reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. It can be caused by things like heart defects, chronic lung infections and Celiac disease.

Common symptoms of clubbing include nail beds softening, nails beginning to form at a sharper angle, finger redness and swelling and nails curving downward.