Cancer of the nails


Nail cancer develops in the form of melanoma. Subungual melanoma is a malignant degeneration of skin melanocytes (cells that form a special enzyme - melanin). The nail formation is mainly formed on the fingers of the lower extremities. The tumor is characterized by extremely rapid growth and the formation of metastases.


Depending on the location of the malignant process, the following cancers are distinguished:

  1. Melanoma of the nail plate.
  2. Actually lancing melanoma.
  3. Melonoma, the development of which comes from neighboring tissues.

Nail cancer - photo:

Etiology of malignant nail damage

To date, the exact cause of the development of the pathological process under the nail plate has not been established. In oncology, it is common to distinguish the following risk factors for the development of nail cancer:

  • Genetic predisposition.Cancer of the nailmore likely to occur in people who have direct relatives with cancer.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet irradiation. Sun burns several times increase the risk of developing cancerous skin lesions that can lead to the development of not only nail cancer, but also cause cancer of the hair, skin cancer, skin cancer of the nose, etc.
  • People, in the age category of 50-70 years, are particularly prone to cancer of the nail plate.
  • Working conditions associated with exposure to harmful chemical compounds can provoke gene mutations at the cellular level, which is the main cause of development of oncological pathology.

Symptoms of Nail Cancer

Primary manifestations of subungual melanoma are practically absent and only in the process of development of cancer lesion is the detection of external manifestations of the tumor in the form:

  • Presence of a small brown spot, which is located at the base of the nail bed. In some cases, the nail lesion can develop as a longitudinal band on the nail. Sometimes, before the appearance of external manifestations, patients notice a finger injury, which was not timely provided with medical care.
  • In the later stages of the disease, pigmentation spots increase in size and color becomes much more intense.
  • Malignant neoplasm in the process of growth extends to the entire nail plate and nearby soft tissues.
  • The terminal stages of the disease are accompanied by the formation of a nodular lesion of the nail tissues, followed by ulceration and the occurrence of spontaneous bleeding.

Diagnosis of the oncology of the nail plate

If there are suspicions of cancer of the nails, it is appropriate to carry out the primary diagnosis of malignant nail damage under the control not only of a dermatologist, but also under the supervision of an oncologist. Since the manifestations of the disease in the early stages are similar to the manifestations of traumatic injuries of the nail plate, it is necessary to perform dermatoscopy. Examination of the affected area with the help of a magnifying device allows to determine the presence of malignant tissues in the nail bed. If the dermatologist suspects the cancer process, the next stage of diagnosis is the biopsy.

Cytological examination of a small area of ​​pathological tissue is carried out in oncological clinics. According to laboratory analyzes of biological material, the oncologist doctor establishes the final diagnosis, which includes the type of tumor, the stage of development and the spread of oncology.

Treatment of nail cancer

A key method of treating malignant nail lesions is a surgical operation to remove the tumor and parts of healthy nearby tissues with a preventive purpose. The volume of surgical intervention determines the prevalence of the pathological focus. So in the primary stages of the disease, the removal of cancer tissues can be carried out with the help of the action of ultra-low temperatures, which lead to peeling of the mutated cells. Before the cryosurgery, the patient is removed from the nail plate.

In cases of significant spread of cancerous nail lesions with the spread of the process to neighboring tissues, the patient is recommended to perform an amputation of the finger phalanx.

Additional methods of treating nail melanoma are:

  • Chemotherapy:

The use of cytotoxic drugs is prescribed in the preoperative period to stabilize the malignant process and prevent the occurrence of relapses after the operation.

  • Radiation therapy:

Exposure to the tumor with highly active X-rays causes the death of cancer cells and possible metastatic lesions of the lymph nodes. The use of radioactive irradiation is recommended as the final stage of surgical treatment of late stages of subungual melanoma.

Postoperative survival

With the condition of early diagnosis of malignant neoplasms, the prognosis of the disease is positive. Since the signs of the disease in most cases appear in the late stages, the five-year postoperative survival rate is close to 40%.