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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 Zapotee, Community Member, asks

Q: Lump in armpit - Unchanged and Chronic ( 6 years)

Lump in armpit - Unchanged and Chronic (6 years)

 

Hello,

 

I have a question regarding an armpit lump I've had for about 6 years. I've had this lump checked by about 3 doctors who have dismissed it as nothing. Should I request further testing?

 

 

I am 35 years old, female, with no prior history of cancer or any other chronic disease. I've had a mammogram done when I first had it checked six years ago, which came out negative.

 

After that, I've brought it up during my annual examinations and all doctors have reassured me it is nothing to worry about.

 

I performed a self breast exam monthly and as far as I'm concerned there has been no changes for the past 6 years. The only thing I've noticed is that it becomes a little sore if I touch it too much.

 

I became concerned after reading a story about a lady who was diagnosed with breast cancer whose sole symptom was a similar lump. Should I request further evaluation?

 

Thak you for your response

 

eta. I should add the lump is about an 2cm wide and maybe 1/2 cm long, is of a rubbery texture/feel, it's movable and painless for the most part. It sits right below my left armpit, in the middle of that caved in area between the actual armpit and the side of my back/chest. I hope that makes sense!

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Answers (3)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/23/09 7:07pm

If it hasn't changed in six years, then I'd venture to guess it's just part of your body. Please read our post on armpit lumps - it may help you understand what it is. If you're feeling stressed about it, perhaps you could see a surgeon about simply having it removed? Good luck - PJH.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/23/09 7:09pm

A lump that hasn't changed in six years is unlikely to be cancer.  There are any number of types of benign lumps it could be such as a sebaceous cyst, a lipoma (fatty tumor), etc.  Since three different doctors have told you it isn't dangerous, and since it hasn't changed, I don't think you need to worry about it.  The next time you are in the doctor's office, you might ask the doctor what kind of lump he thinks it is just for you own peace of mind.  If you ever notice significant changes, bring it to the doctor's attention again.

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Zapotee, Community Member
9/23/09 9:14pm

Thank you ladies for answering. I will ask the next time I see my doctor, maybe I'm better off having it removed so I don't have to panic about it from time to time.

 

I just wanted to wish all of the forum members who are battling BC a speedy recovery and health for all of the years to come. Your courage, resolve and positive attitude are inspirational! God bless. 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
9/23/09 9:21pm

Thank you - and God bless you, too. PJH

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shopgirlSTL, Community Member
10/18/09 12:27am

I have the EXACT same thing...its been 6 years (that I know of!) and doctors, breast surgeons and ultraounds all say nothing is wrong. Its in my armpit region, soft mobile, never changes, but is very sore right before my periods. Reading your story reassured me that I'm not the only one w/ this "lump" that I'm constantly touching and dwelling on...even when everyone else is telling me not to worry!
BTW I'm 29.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/18/09 6:48am

Hi - Hav you read our post on armpit lumps? This is the classic symtom of a cyst or fibroadenoma, a lump that feels sore right before your period... PJH

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Alisa, Community Member
3/21/12 5:14pm

I also have an identical situation.  I am 36 & discovered the lump in my left armpit 1 year ago.  Along with the second lady, I notice pain about the time of ovulation all the way up to the start of my period and then it subsides. Along with the pain/tenderness, there is swelling.  I have had two ultrasounds by a breast specialist, but the area is very hard to probe and there is no way to do a mammogram there.  She gave me no conclusive answers, but was confident that it wasn't cancerous. I have been researching breast cysts and fibroadenoma, but wasn't sure if they could be in the armpit.  It sounds like you are saying that they can. Is that correct? Is there a way to conclusively diagnose whether it is a cyst or fibroadenoma? Can lipomas also fluctuate with your menstrual cycle??

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/21/12 7:09pm

I'd say the major clue is that the lump seems to change in synch with your cycle - which would point to it being a cyst or fibroadenoma, rather than a cancerous tumor. And yes, breast tissue extends up into the armpit, so anything that can happen in your breast can also happen under your arm.

 

The breast specialist is right; this is probably nothing to worry about. However, without a conclusive result from the ultrasounds, there's no way to rule out cancer 100%. Chances are excellent this is a cyst, lipoma, or fibroadenoma it's up to you how comfortable you are leaving it at that, vs. pursuing further testing. Good luck - PJH

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Alisa, Community Member
3/22/12 12:03am

Could a fine needle aspiration conclusively diagnose a cyst, fibroadenoma or lipoma? Could blood/urine testing tell me anything?

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
3/22/12 5:39am

Depending on the location, a fine needle aspiration might well give more information.  I've had cysts drained with a needle as part of the diagnostic process before.  If the lump is a lymph node that is swollen because it is fighting infection, blood testing might indicate an infection.  Blood/urine testing could help with identifying underlying health issues that are part of what is going on. They wouldn't identify breast cancer.  Keep on asking your doctor questions about how to find out what this is.  A surgeon would be the doctor who could do a fine needle aspiration and/or other biopsy procedures to get a sample of the tissue.  We hope you soon get reassuring answers.

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Alisa, Community Member
3/22/12 8:57am

The breast specialist thought it would be too risky to do a core needle biopsy because of the location - main arteries & such.  She didn't encourage a fine needle aspiration because she said they can be inconclusive for cancer, since they only test the cells from the section they aspirate.  I was hoping to hear that a fine needle aspiration could conclusively tell me if it was a specific benign lump, by cell characteristics and rule out cancer that way. She intially thought it could be my lymph nodes, but ruled that out with the 2nd ultrasound. I will keep probing per your advice and am thinking of seeing a family doctor just for a different perspective. I'd love to just have it removed and know for sure, but that's no small drop in the bucket.

Thank you so much for your help and your time. God bless.

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Alisa, Community Member
3/22/12 9:02am

Oh, one more question for Phyllis. You said that you had a cyst drained by a needle in the diagnostic process before.  Did the cyst ever come back or fill up with fluid again after the aspiration?

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
3/22/12 9:22am

Yes, I have had cysts "refill" after being drained.  Ultrasounds helped to confirm that the cysts really were harmless fluid-filled cysts and not solid lumps that might be cancer.   

The underarm area is tricky to navigate because of all the nerves and blood vessels.  If the surgeon thinks it would be too difficult to get in there safely to biopsy, you may just need to wait.  I'm in a watchful waiting process myself right now for a nodule in a location that can't be safely biopsied.  The doctor plans to keep doing imaging tests to make sure it is not growing.  It is nerve-wracking to have to wait, but I trust my doctor's judgment that the likelihood is that the spot isn't dangerous.  Another opinion might give you more confidence that it is safe to wait.  Keep in mind that most lumps are not dangerous and that your doctor has experience in knowing the characteristics of the different types.  Of course, no one can promise you for sure that a lump is benign without a biopsy, but your doctor can help you think through the risks and benefits of each course of action.

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Alisa, Community Member
3/22/12 10:27am

Thank you, Phyllis.  Unknowns are always nerve-wracking.  I wish you all the best. If I get anything conclusive, I will post for other inquiries - ladies who may be searching for answers to the same problem.

 

Blessings.

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By Zapotee, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/03/14, First Published: 09/23/09