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Felt movable lump on both of arm. Breast exam normal. What is causing this?

Mar 2013
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Practicing since : 1998
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Hello, I can feel lymph nodes under both of my arms. They have been there for a while. They are very mobile they feel like there about 1-1 1/2 cm. maybe 2 on each side. I have had a normal breast exam recently... Is this Normal to feel these?!
Posted Mon, 27 May 2013 in Breast Cancer
Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 30 minutes later
Thanks for your query.

Lymph nodes of the armpit are known as the axillary lymph nodes. They are usually not palpable (felt by touch) but may sometimes become swollen, hard and/or painful. This can arise from a host of possible causes ranging from minor injuries to infections and even cancer. Apart from the armpit itself, disorders or diseases of surrounding organs may also cause axillary lymph node swelling.

Lymph nodes that are swollen due to infections tend to be firm and painful. Enlarged lymph nodes due to cancer are usually firm or hard in consistency, fixed (not freely mobile), usually not painful, and may be matted (stuck to each other). They may also increase in size over time.

In some cases the lymph nodes may be felt, without the presence of any disease, but are usually small (less than 1 cm in size), soft and painless lumps.

Cysts and abscesses under the skin in the armpit may produce lumps which could be mistaken for enlarged lymph nodes.

Breast cancer may cause swollen axillary lymph nodes since the lymph vessels of the breast drain into the lymph nodes of the armpit. These nodes become enlarged when cancer cells spread beyond the breast tissue.

Melanoma is one of the most XXXXXXX types of skin cancer. It may metastasize (spread) to the nearby lymph nodes.

Brucellosis and cat scratch disease are common infections.

Silicone breast implants may trigger a foreign body reaction to the implant itself or due to leakage from the implants. These complications of breast augmentation may cause axillary lymph node enlargement as well as breast swelling, tenderness and/or breast pain.

Perfumes, deodorants and certain cosmetic procedures like hair removal from the armpit may also cause an allergy or inflammation in the area with or without enlargement of the surrounding lymph nodes. Contact dermatitis, folliculitis or an armpit fungus may also develop on the skin of the axilla and cause swollen armpit lymph nodes.

With a normal breast exam , you need not have much cause for worry.
Ask your doctor for an examination to evaluate the causes of the palpable lymph nodes.

Take care, and feel free to ask further questions.
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