Sean Lock: ‘Finger clubbing’ and ‘coughing up blood’ Signs of the cancer that killed comic

Sean Lock: ‘Finger clubbing’ and ‘coughing up blood’ Signs of the cancer that killed comic

Bill Bailey says Sean Lock would be 'chuffed' with fundraiser

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The star, who appeared on Channel 4 show 8 Out of 10 Cats from 2005 to 2015, and on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown from 2012 until his death in 2021, passed away after a private battle with lung cancer. At the time, his close friend and fellow comic Bill Bailey confirmed the news, explaining that the star had first been diagnosed with the disease “a few years ago”. The diagnosis came as “quite a blow” due to its advanced stage but despite it all, Lock was able to continue working and spend time with his loved ones.

“We’ve tried to make the most of the last few years. We spent a lot of time together and went on trips together. And he’s continued to work,” Bailey said last year shortly after the news of his death.

“He’s amazingly courageous and tough individual who was mentally strong throughout the whole time. I’m just grateful for the time we have had together.”

Lock’s battle with lung cancer was not the only time he had come face-to-face with the disease throughout his life. Back in 1990 the star was diagnosed with skin cancer, which he attributed to overexposure to the sun while working as a builder in the early 1980s.

Recalling the tale of his diagnosis, Lock explained that he first became aware of his skin cancer symptoms after spending the night with a woman named Tina, who alerted him to a mark on his back.

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“She said there was something weird on my back,” he shared back in 2010. “I asked her what it looked like, and she said it was a patch of skin which was black, misshapen, with a crusty texture and about the size of a 10p piece.

“I had no idea how long it had been there. It didn’t hurt or itch, so there was nothing that would have drawn my attention to it.

“Being in the small of my back, it was not something you could easily see while looking in a mirror.”

After seeing a GP, Lock was referred to a dermatologist where the piece of skin was removed and after a biopsy the star found out that the area of skin was malignant. Fortunately he was able to make a full recovery.

Deciding not to share any details of his lung cancer diagnosis, for Lock, his second time battle with cancer was sadly entirely different.

Cancer Research UK explains that advanced lung cancer refers to cancer that has spread from where it started in the lung. It is also known as metastatic cancer. For some individuals this type of cancer might also cause fluid that contains cancer cells to collect around the lung. This is called fluid on the lung or a pleural effusion.

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. However, treatment might control it, help symptoms, and improve an individuals quality of life for some time. A cancer might be advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or it may come back some time after you were first treated, this is referred to as recurrent cancer.

The NHS explains that lung cancer is one of the “most common and serious” types of cancer. It affects around 47,000 people every year, and although these are not all at an advanced stage, the cancer always has a risk of spreading to other nearby areas such as:

  • Nearby lymph nodes
  • The brain
  • Bones
  • The liver
  • The adrenal glands (small hormone glands just above your kidney)
  • Other parts of the lung or the other lung.

This type of cancer is also dangerous as in its early stages, symptoms are rare. Many people with the condition do not end up developing symptoms until the cancer has developed.

A this stage possible symptoms can include:

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Persistent breathlessness
  • Unexplained tiredness and weight loss
  • An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.

Cancer Research UK also adds that individuals may suffer from ongoing chest infections, a hoarse voice, changes in the shape of your fingers and nails called finger clubbing, swelling of the face caused by a blockage of a main blood vessel (superior vena cava obstruction) and a loss of appetite.

For this reason, individuals who experience any of the above, or just an unexplained feeling of fatigue and generally feeling unwell that lasts for an extended period of time, should seek medical advice from their GP as soon as possible.

If lung cancer has spread, individuals may start to notice other symptoms in these newly affected areas of the body. For example, if cancer has spread to the brain, individuals may experience:

  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Severe headaches, often with sickness
  • Weakness of an arm or leg.

After being diagnosed, treatment for lung cancer depends on the type of mutation the cancer has, how far it’s spread and how the state of the individual’s general health.

If the condition is diagnosed early and the cancerous cells are confined to a small area, surgery to remove the affected area of the lung may be recommended. If surgery is unsuitable, radiotherapy to destroy cancerous cells may be recommended instead.

For those with advanced lung cancer, chemotherapy is usually used. There are also a number of medicines known as targeted therapies. They target a specific change in or around the cancer cells that is helping them to grow. Targeted therapies cannot cure lung cancer but they can slow its spread.

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