Lung Cancer Detected in Brazilian Woman Due to Her "Velvety Palms"

The condition known as Tripe Palms changes the surface and texture of cancer patients' hands, turning them velvety.
Fabienne Lang

A Brazilian 73-year-old woman was not expecting her dermatology check-up to turn into a conversation about lung cancer. Yet, unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, explained how the woman went to seek a doctor's help after both of her palms changed texture. She has what is known as velvety "tripe palms."

Tripe palms can be a side effect of lung cancer.


The woman's velvety hands

The Brazilian woman from the study went to seek medical help after her palms became itchy and had painful lesions. Her symptoms had persisted over the course of nine months, and when doctors took a closer look at her hands they discovered particularly sharp lines in the fold of her palms.

Furthermore, her palms had additional ridged lines and displayed a 'velvety' appearance.

This rare condition has a number of names: palmoplantar keratoderma, or acanthosis nigricans of the palm. The term took a more memorable name in the 1970s when a doctor called it 'tripe palm'. 

It was named as such because a doctor realized their patients' hands looked similar to cooked cow and sheep stomachs. 

Unfortunately, the term is almost always associated with a type of lung or gastric cancer. 

In the case of the Brazilian woman, she had been smoking a packet of cigarettes a day for three decades, had been dealing with a persistent cough, and had continually been losing weight. All signs that can lead to lung cancer, including her tripe palms. 

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Not everyone who has lung or gastric cancer has tripe palms as a side effect. It's still largely unknown why it happens, although some scientific researchers believe cancer can overstimulate the production of skin cells on the palm. 

The authors of the study said that the woman is still undergoing treatment, as her cancer had persisted past her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. 

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