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Why would I have an enlarged lymph node in my breast?

By Anonymous April 16, 2009 - 6:21am
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I am a 30 y.o. female with no family history of breast cancer. I found a lump in my right breast a short while ago. Over the next few weeks I had 2 sets of mammograms and an ultrasound done. I called my gyn daily to get the results of the tests, and when they finally came in the FNP returned my call. She stated that it was benign, and when I questioned her further she said it was an enlarged lymph node. Not being a pushy person, and I didn't really have any questions prepared for this scenario I let it go and hung up. Now I can't find any info online for why I would have an enlarged lymph node in my breast. From what I'm finding it must not be a common place, because I have yet to find anything.

So, my question is...Is this something that should be further tested? It is still the same size as when I found it about a month and a half ago. The only other symptom I am having is that occasionally my breast will ache slightly. It's usually only for a few seconds and it quits. It occurs maybe 1-2 times a day.

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Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)

Thank you for such a knoweldgeable post.

May 23, 2013 - 5:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Iam 38 with 4 children got my period at 9...mother died 11yrs ago from lung cancer(smoker) and grandma died 3 yrs ago lung cancer as well..also was a smoker...My period was last thurs and ended sun today is thurs...so a week ago...i noticed a pain in my breast so I felt it and I noticed what I thought was a lump..Went to the drs and she said maybe just my breasts maybe fibrocystic but they are dense lets get it checked to be sure...went for a mammogram and an ultrasound..Dr that viewed mammo results came in for the ultrasound...at the end said nothing alarming and said sometimes they ask to come back in 6 months but doesnt feel one way or another about it...what the heck does that mean? the tech said she sees tissue and a lymph node? Sigh..I am naturally a worrier(excessive) so this doesnt help...The pain is still here and the node seems to be bigger? If it was cancer it would have shown on either test right? Help!!!

February 17, 2011 - 4:41am
(reply to Anonymous)

Do you know what a lymph node is? I am not sure why the tech told you she "saw a lymph node", because of course she would....that is part of our body. Our lymph nodes can become swollen if we are fighting an infection from a virus (just like a common cold).

If your doctor said, "nothing alarming, come back in 6 months", I can understand wanting to know more. You can call the office back to ask for an interpretation of your test results, that you were unclear. It is always good practice to get a copy of your test results, and you should call to get a copy of these as well.

The last sentence is the only time you mentioned pain; did you talk to your doctor about this pain? A lymph node getting bigger could just be from your body fighting a common cold, but if you are having pain, you need to call your doctor back and talk with a nurse or doctor to repeat the test results and interpret them for you (as well as get a copy of the results).

February 17, 2011 - 9:46am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Anon - First, you are entitled to copies of your reports and should get them right away, and get copies of all test results in the future.

If the NP is your only regular physician, and you already have a relationship with a GYN, then go there unless you happen to be in a position to self-refer to an oncologist. Be sure to take copies of your test results. Be sure to get blood work done during your appointment to further check the cause of your lymph node enlargement. An enlarged node on its own may not be cause for alarm - you need more information to determine if you have health issues and you also need to be seen by a health professional who will address your questions and concerns.
Good luck! Pat

February 13, 2011 - 3:54pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm going through exact same thing as most of you:I felt somethnig in my left breast,NP suggested it was a lymph node.Still was sent to mammo and ultrasond.Lymp node showed on mammo,ultrasound confirmed it.
Got the follow-up in 6 months.
I called and talked to NP ,and she said I have nothing to worry about.
When i started asking more questions,she didn't seem to be very happy.
In general all I want is someone to talk to me about my results-I still don't know waht size is the node,is it abnormally dense ,etc.
I think I'll call my docotr(no offense to NP),and will go another one for second opinion.
my question is -what is enlarged lymph node size-wise?Also,what doctor should I see-GYN,or breast surgeon?

By the way this site is the only one I found to have such a full info about my very specific concern.

February 12, 2011 - 2:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

I too have a lymph node in my breast that was first found in 2007. At that time I had the ultrasound and was told that they will "watch" it. Now 4 years later, I had my yearly mammogram and the lymph node has enlarged from 2 x 3 to 6 x 9 mm or cm -( don't remember which). The lymph node has not been mentioned to me since the 2007 exam. The radiologist now wants to do a MRI because of the increase in size of the lymph node and because of my strong family history (2 sisters)of breast cancer. Now by reading this site, I find that I have some questions to ask the radiologist. I had a fever of 102.2 just two nites before my mammogram, and I also have hypothyroidism and take .75 mcg of Synthroid a day. What do you think of the MRI request, and the fact that I had "unexplained" fever just two days before. I would guess that the lymph node could have been enlarged because of the fever. I have medical insurance with a $10,000 deductible, so I'm hesitant to spend the money on a unnecessary MRI. Any comments???? Thanks

February 10, 2011 - 8:25pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

mistle30 - It both saddens and angers me to hear about this. I'm sad that you had to go through this experience, and angry that a resident is being taught that the patient is just a clinical specimen or "case" and that the impact on you as a human being was not considered. I know it's hard waiting on biopsy results, so hang in there and let us know what you learn when you get the results. Best, Pat

November 3, 2010 - 5:21pm

Had my biopsy today. Interestingly enough, the radiologist asked if a resident could participate. Answer....of course. Needle inserted and I have the honor or hearing to the resident, "50% of breast cancers are found in this region......" not what I wanted to hear. Amazing how we as women have to be assertive and proactive, even pushy in our own healthcare.

November 3, 2010 - 2:17pm

Interesting that I find this site today. I spent 6 hours with a surgeon. I had a mammo this past summer, to my untrained eye I saw the enlarged lymph node. It began to worry me now 3 months later, I went and got the report and the lymph node wasn't even mentioned. I had a friend re-read (thank god for friends) who said lets see a surgeon. I met with him today. He was pretty cursory when I spoke with him. Seemed less than interested in my concerns. He wanted to see me again in 6 months. I pushed based on my friends re-read of the films. I had a repeat mammo (which showed two enlarged nodes - one at the breast apex) and one a little higher. Then, an ultrasound. The radiologist did my ultrasound and she was WONDERFUL! Told me her medical opinion was to watch it for 3 months but her "woman" opinion was lets biopsy it. Can't hurt to have piece of mind when it is normal and I will be able to sleep again without worrying.

I told her my story about losing my best friend who had to "plead" for a biopsy because the doctor thought she had an infected "mammary gland" as she was pregnant at the time. She died in my arms on my birthday two years ago. I made a promise that any abnormalities I would push. So, I did. The radiologist shared a family story of her 28 yr old cousin, same thing, pushed the doc. Diagnosed with cancer and has now passed away as well.

Back to the surgeon whose response to me, "I knew you wouldn't be satisfied until we poked holes in you." My response, "damn right!"

If you are truly concerned and have other symptoms as I do (fatigue, intermittent fever spikes, hair loss, etc) PLEASE please dont settle. A punch biopsy is a minimally invasive test that can give you soooo many answers and provide you piece of mind.

I have mine Tuesday!

October 27, 2010 - 4:57pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to mistle30)

mistle30 - Thanks for writing and sharing your story. We're glad you found EmpowHER as you have the exact spirit and attitude that we encourage women to use in advocating for their own health. I wish you the best for your appointment on Tuesday, and invite you to come back to the site and share more about your situation, and thoughts, through our "Share" feature.
Look forward to hearing from you. Pat

October 27, 2010 - 5:29pm
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