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Dr. K.
Dr. K., Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 4888
Experience:  Board certified with experience in primary care.
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After suffering pain in her arm and finding a small lump in

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After suffering pain in her arm and finding a small lump in her breast (close to crease of the arm) my mum went for an examination 4 weeks ago. The specialists were not concerned by the lump (which was very small and smooth) and nothing showed up on the mamogram or the ultrasound. However, they discovered that the lymph glands beside the breast was swollen and took a biopsy for testing. Breast cancer cells were found in the sample and so a biopsy of the lump in the breast was taken and an MRI scan was performed. We get the results on Monday and my mum is worried sick and thinking the worst. My question is: If the cancer is elsewhere, would the cells appear in the sample taken from the lymph gland beside the breast?

Hello, this is Dr K.. Answers are not medical advice and do not constitute a doctor/patient relationship. I look forward to helping you today.

Hi. Im so sorry to hear of your bad news with your mom.

Unfortunately the presence of cancer in the lymph nodes does worsen the prognosis. It means that the cancer has been there a while or that its a fast growing and aggressive type of cancer. It also increases the likelihood of spread to other parts of the body.

The type of cancer, the hormone receptors, the number of positive nodes, and the size of the mass in the axillary area all determine prognosis.

Its important to note that many women bad breast cancers that have spread and some die of small cancers that have not. Keep pursuing the most aggressive treatment plan for her. Good luck
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank-you for your response and your best wishes but you haven't really addressed my question. I am already aware of the complications which come with the cancer being present in the lymph nodes.


They were not concerned by the lump up by the crease of my Mum's arm. It was small and smooth and nothing appeared on either the mamogram or the ultrasound. It was only when they felt the swollen lymph nodes nearby that they became concerned. My mum had a biopsy of the lymph nodes and they found breast cancer cells. They then did a biopsy of the lump in the breast (which they were initially unconcerned about) and did an MRI scan. We get the full results on Monday.


So the lymph nodes examined has confirmed that there are cancer cells in her breast. My question is: Does the absence of other types of cancer cells in the sample taken mean that it is not present elsewhere in the body?

Yes The lymph node cancerous cells confirms there is cancer in the breast. The absence of other types of cancer cells does not mean that. The cancer of the breast may have spread elsewhere. If you are worried that its a different cancer that has gone to the armpit, thats not the case. Hope this helps.
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