Skin cancer symptom warning: Signs on fingernails and toenails you should never ignore


There are many skin cancer warning signs and symptoms you should be aware of, as it’s one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. One in particular can be spotted under a person’s finger and toenails

Woman looking at nails on bed
Your nails may hold the key to spotting certain types of skin cancer

People are being advised that they can spot signs of skin cancer on their fingernails and toenails.

The cancer type, as stated by the NHS, is “one of the most common cancers in the world” and can be deadly.

One of the types of skin cancer, melanoma, is found in 16,700 every year, according to Cancer Research statistics from 2016-2018. The NHS said 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year.

Melanoma rates have doubled since the 1990s, according to the NHS, but survival rates for the cancer type remain relatively high.

Around 98% of people with it survive the first year of having melanoma according to data from 2013-2017, and nine in 10 people now survive the disease for more than 10 years.

Despite this, the disease is common and people should be on the lookout for the signs of it.

What are the signs of skin cancer?

There are a range of skin cancer signs to watch out for



One sign of skin cancer people should look out for is their nails being affected, such as a dark streak appearing.

Other nail signs include dark skin next to your nail, the nail splitting or being easily lifted from the nail bed. People should also look out for a bump or nodule under the nail itself.

Medical experts advise people to take this seriously as nail melanoma is often at more of an advanced stage than on the skin.

What are the most common symptoms of skin cancer?

The most common symptoms for skin cancer (non-melanoma), according to the NHS are:

  • A lump or discolored patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses
  • Sometimes lumps are red and firm, and may turn into ulcers
  • Patches are usually flat and scaly
  • Often occurs on areas of skin regularly exposed to sun

For melanoma, the most common sign is the appearance of a new mole or change in an existing mole.

This can happen anywhere ion the body. Look out for gradual changes in shape, size and colour.

See a GP if you have any skin abnormality, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or skin discoloration that hasn’t healed after four weeks.

You should also see a GP if you have a mole that’s getting bigger, particularly if it has an irregular edge.

What types of skin cancer are there?

There are different types of skin cancer



There are several different types of skin cancer, but most can be put into the categories of melanoma and non-melanoma.

Non-melanoma cancers are a reference to cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

The NHS explained: “The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which can be more serious.”

Non-melanoma includes basal cell skin cancer (BCC), which Cancer Research said: “About 75 out of every 100 non-melanoma skin cancers (75%) are BCC.”

Melanoma skin cancers develop in something called the ‘melanocytes’, which produce pigments in the top layers of the skin and they also often develop from a mole.

Moffitt Cancer Center said: “Damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and tanning beds can trigger cancerous changes in these cells, but melanoma may also develop in areas of the body that aren’t exposed to the sun.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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