FROM OUR EXPERTS
If you feel a lump in your breast, you know enough to take it seriously. But did you know that a lump in your armpit should be taken just as seriously? Read the following FAQS for informatiton about the types and causes of armpit lumps, and guidance on whether/when to see a doctor if you feel one.
Q. I recently noticed a small lump under my left arm, in my armpit. Could this be a sign of breast cancer? A. It could indeed be a sign of breast cancer, for two reasons. First, breast tissue sometimes extends up into the armpit region. A lump felt in your underarm could in reality be a lump in your breast; you just never realized your breast extended that far. Second, the lymph nodes in your armpit filter out any abnormalities (infections, reactions to drugs, cancer) in the same-side chest wall, arm, or breast. So a lump under your arm may indicate that your lymph nodes have identified, and are trying to fight, cancer cells that have reached them from your breast. Q. Well, now I’m...
Lump in the armpit; Localized lymphadenopathy - armpit; Axillary lymphadenopathy; Axillary lymph enlargement; Lymph nodes enlargement - axillary; Axillary abscess
Armitage JO. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine . 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007: chap 174.
Camitta Bm. Lymphadenopathy. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 18th Ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 490.
Glover KY, Varadhachary GR, Lenzi R, Raber MN, Abbruzzese JL. Carcinoma of unknown primary. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Clinical Oncology . 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa; Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008: chap 98.
In 1988, I developed a lump in my right breast. I was in my mid twenties and while I pointed it out to my doctors -- no one was alarmed. Finally in 1991, I started to have some pain associated and I decided to take it more seriously and sought the consultation of a breast surgeon. At my behest, he took the lump out and the biopsy read "dense fibrous tissue". Many people have fiber cystic tissue, but the lumps in my breasts were different shapes, hard and many. Size would change depending on stress, menstrual cycle and caffeine consumption and sometimes they felt tender, but most of the time I didn't feel them! In the following years, my gynecologists referred me to breast oncologists for my check ups, because the lumps are too many and the tissue is so unclear, they did not want the liability. I started having mammograms when I was 34, and the comment was my “mammograms look like a snow storm!” I started to ask &q...
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