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Wednesday, March 02, 2011 luvmy3and1, Community Member, asks

Q: I have a centimeter sized movable lump in my right breast with pain into my armpit and down right arm. Any thoughts on what it could be? Cancer? It does run in my family. :(

I have had a mammo done, but now need another one and an ultrasound too. All they said is that they needed more tests and wouldn't give me much more info than that. The lump was discovered due to the pain in my armpit, so I went in to have that checked. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas as to what it could be or if anyone has had a similar experience. I am prepared for a good or bad outcome as like I said before, we do have quite a bit of cancer in our family. By the way, I just turned 38. At this point, I am thankful that it was found and can't wait to figure this out and do something about it. Thank you for any ideas, thoughts, etc. It's nice to know that there are those of you out there willing to support and be of help.
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Answers (1)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/ 2/11 10:12pm

Hi - It's good that the lump you feel is moveable - most breast cancer lumps are fixed and immobile. Also, pain in your armpit and down your arm isn't a typical breast cancer symptom. And cancer running in your family (unless it's your mom or a sister with breast cancer; or your grandmother plus at least one other close relative with breast cancer) doesn't qualify as a family history that'll increase your breast cancer risk. So thankfully, from the symptoms you describe, the odds are on your side that this isn't breast cancer.


Still, any breast lump has to be diagnosed; it sounds like the mammogram was inconclusive, so your doctor is taking the next step: another, more focused mammogram, and an ultrasound. Oftentimes moveable lumps in the breast are fluid-filled cysts; uncomfortable, but basically harmless. There's a good chance the ultrasound will show whether or not this is a cyst.


If the ultrasound is also inconclusive, then you may need a biopsy. Scary word - but don't panic! About 85% of breast biopsies are negative; no cancer. So the odds are still with you. Finally, 95% of all new breast cancer diagnoses are in women age 40 or older; again, good news for you.


Bototm line: pursue the testing till you find out what's causing the lump and armpit/arm pain; it's the responsible thing to do. But please try not to stress too much; chances are good you don't have cancer. Take care- PJH



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By luvmy3and1, Community Member— Last Modified: 03/02/11, First Published: 03/02/11