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Painful lumpy arm, cold, taking Xenical, have osteoarthritis, history of breast cancer, had mastectomy

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
I have a painful lumpy right arm. I am 61. Had breast cancer in 2001 and had a left breast mastectomy and no further treatment. I weigh 15 1/2 stones, taking xenical to lose weight. I have osteo arthritis which affects all my joints. The pain in my arm is a nagging pain. My neck feels like my glands are up due to a cold at present. Please can you help? Thank you. I am 5ft 4 1/2 ins. (arm feels cold)
Posted Wed, 18 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 8 hours later
Hello and thanks for the query.

I will work on providing you with good information and recommendations regarding what is going on.

Regarding your symtoms of lumpy arm and pain associated with this there are several categories which we must consider including musculoskeletal, lymphatic and infectious.

An infection seems less likely as we would expect a fever in this setting but we should at least consider the possibility of this related to your arm.

Next category is lymphatic or vascular. If there is obstruction to blood flow due to a small blood clot or to lympatic flow due to a swollen lymph glad this could give you the lumpy sensation with the pain. This is something however that you will need to see your doctor to review.

The last category is musculoskeletal and in this sense we consider a pulled muscle, or ligament or inflamed joint. In the absence of an obvious injury or exertion I would consider this less likely.

Your history of cancer cannot be ignored and I urge you to seek the counsel of your doctor. I think you need a good focused exam and consultation to delineate the true cause of your discomfort. Yes it may be not a very big deal but on the off chance that it is more significant, I would want you to have an intervention sooner than later. I hope you understand my perspective here.

I thank you again for the query and hope this response has been clear and helpful.
If you have any additional concerns I am happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Painful lumpy arm, cold, taking Xenical, have osteoarthritis, history of breast cancer, had mastectomy 6 hours later
Dear Doctor XXXXXXX
Thank you for your reply. I have managed to get an appointment with a Doctor for tomorrow morning but my usual doctor who knows me well is away on holiday all of this week and next week.
I walk with a walking stick in my right hand and tend to lean on it a bit heavily and sometimes when I get home, my right arm aches from it. Also I use a computer a lot and at present it hurts a bit when I am typing or using the mouse.
In November 2008, I had an operation to remove veins in my right leg and ever since then, I have had a large lump in my groin.
I have lymphoedema in my arms since my left breast mastectomy. Also I have lymphoedema in both legs.
Do you think that my lymphatic system is blocked and if so what treatments are there for this? Would this cause the lumpiness and pain in my upper chest and right arm which is quite pronounced around the elbow and wrist? Or could this same lumpiness be caused by my leaning heavily on my walking stick?
I of course am concerned that it could have been a stray cancer cell from when I had breast cancer but my cancer was detected early inside the duct but widespread across and XXXXXXX into my left breast which was why the breast had to be removed completely. I have a large scar where my breast was removed and the nerve endings are tied up in a rounded looking area above the scar.
I am a bit panicky thinking of cancer but I am trying so hard to stay positive. Please can you advise me on my concerns. Thank you very much for your help.
Best wishes,
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 13 hours later
Hello and thank you for the follow up question.

Regarding the previous treatment of cancer, this is always a concern and should constantly be on the radar in thinking about your general health.

I am doubting that what you are experiencing is related to a recurrence of the cancer. I do think however that a possible disturbance in the flow of the lymphatic system may be playing a role. This can be due to inflammation or scar tissue formation. There are plenty of therapies which are available if this is related to the lymphatic system. Physical therapy is sometimes used quite successfully.

For now I would try not to worry very much at all about a recurrence of your cancer. I would focus more on the likely musculoskeletal causes. I'm sure your doctor will help you with this.

I thank you again for submitting your question. I hope you found my response to be helpful informative and reassuring. If you have any additional concerns please let me know.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Painful lumpy arm, cold, taking Xenical, have osteoarthritis, history of breast cancer, had mastectomy 13 hours later
Dear Doctor XXXXXXX
I went to see a Doctor at my surgery today and he examined my breast, right arm and groin. He said he does not think there is anything to worry about as far as Cancer is concerned but he said I should keep a check on how it is and if I am still concerned in a while, I should go back to him. He said it is important that I see him, himself as he is the one who examined me today. He feels that the general lumpiness and the lump in my groin are due to scar tissue and nothing to worry about. . He thinks that my glands had been swollen due to the cold I have just had.
It is amazing how you diagnosed the scar tissue without even seeing me yourself. You are a wonderful doctor. Thank you very much for all your help. I am very grateful to you.
Take care.
Best wishes,
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 13 hours later

Thank you veryuch for the kind words. I am very glad you visited with your surgeon for a focused exam and consultation. I think this provides the reassurance and confidence that you deserve here. Keep an eye on things for now and know that I am always here to assist if you need.

Take good care.

Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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