Lung Cancer Awareness Month and how it shows up in our feet
Lung Cancer Awareness Month is observed in November each year to raise awareness about lung cancer, its prevention, early detection, treatment and support for individuals affected by the disease. During this month, various health organizations, advocacy groups and medical professionals emphasize the importance of early detection, screenings and education about lung cancer.
Certain conditions or complications related to advanced lung cancer or its treatment may have effects on the feet.
These can include:
- Peripheral Neuropathy. Some chemotherapy drugs used in lung cancer treatment may cause peripheral neuropathy. It’s a condition characterized by nerve damage that can lead to numbness, tingling or pain in the hands and feet.
- Paraneoplastic Syndromes. In rare cases, lung cancer can trigger paraneoplastic syndromes, where the body’s immune response to cancer affects different organ systems. These syndromes can cause neurological symptoms that might indirectly affect the feet, such as muscle weakness or impaired coordination.
- Cancer-related Fatigue. Fatigue, a common symptom experienced by many cancer patients, can affect mobility and increase the risk of foot-related issues due to reduced activity and potential changes in gait or posture.
- Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). Advanced cancers, including lung cancer, can increase the risk of blood clots (VTE), which may manifest as swelling, pain or discoloration in the legs and feet.
- Metastasis to Bones. In cases where lung cancer has metastasized (spread) to the bones, it can potentially affect bones in the lower extremities. It can then lead to bone pain or fractures that may indirectly affect foot function.
Symptoms related to nails
In some cases, changes in the toenails’ appearance or condition could potentially reflect a lung issue. Here are a few things to consider:
- Clubbing. Clubbing of the nails (both fingernails and toenails) can sometimes occur in people with certain lung conditions such as lung cancer. Clubbing is characterized by changes in the angle and appearance of the nails, including the nails becoming thicker, wider and curving more than usual.
- Color Changes. In some cases, chronic low oxygen levels due to lung diseases might cause a bluish or purplish tint in the nails (cyanosis). However, cyanosis is typically seen in the skin and mucous membranes and its appearance in nails is rare.
- Peripheral Edema. Some severe lung conditions can lead to heart or lung-related issues that cause fluid retention in the body, leading to swelling in the feet and ankles. This swelling may indirectly affect the appearance and health of toenails due to the pressure on the nail bed.
- Nail Infections. People with compromised immune systems due to certain lung diseases or treatments may be more susceptible to nail infections, such as fungal infections. These infections can cause changes in the color, texture or thickness of the toenails.
It’s crucial to remember that foot-related symptoms are not typically the primary indicators of lung cancer. If someone experiences foot-related issues alongside other concerning symptoms such as persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss or fatigue, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the underlying cause.
Are you suffering from any foot or nail condition? At The Chelsea Clinic, we can help. One of our podiatrist can assist and then recommend what treatments are best to get you back on track. Podiatrist South Kensington
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at +44 (0) 207 101 4000.
We hope you have a feetastic day!
-The Chelsea Clinic and Team