4 Symptoms That Indicate an Armpit Lump Might Be Cancerous

May 7th 2016

Changes in Size

A medical professional should assess any armpit lump that changes in size. Lumps associated with fatty tissues within the armpit or a cyst typically maintain a particular size. Armpit lumps that continue to swell or grow can signal a tumor that may or may not be cancerous.

Hard, Immovable Lump

A skin infection often produces lumps that are tender to the touch, soft and movable. A hard lump in the armpit that does not move underneath the skin should be evaluated because it has the potential to develop into a more severe infection. It could also indicate the presence of a tumor.

Longevity of a Lump

Bumps near the breast or in the armpit that are caused by cysts, an infection, shaving or a reaction to deodorant often heal after a few days or weeks. Armpit lumps that are persistent and do not heal or decrease in size for a longer period of time should be assessed by a medical professional.

Additional Lumps

Breast tissue can extend up into the armpit region to produce lumps in the armpit area, a fairly common occurrence. Multiple hard lumps extending toward the breast that do not decrease in size or disappear after a few weeks may indicate the need for medical evaluation. A hard, enlarged lump near the breast or armpit does not always indicate a tumor. However, patients should take precaution and have the lump assessed by a medical professional to rule out infections or disease.


Men and women can develop an armpit lump for a variety of reasons. Armpit lumps, or enlargements of one or both of the lymph nodes under the arm, can be cancerous, but may also be an indication of a viral infection such as shingles or chickenpox, a skin irritation stemming from shaving, an allergic reaction to deodorant or other products, or a cyst or boil. Individuals with an existing armpit lump should know the symptoms that could indicate cancerous cells and consult with a medical professional as soon as possible to evaluate the enlargement.


Doctors treat armpit lumps deemed cancerous based on the type of cancer diagnosed, the stage of the disease, and the patient's age and overall health condition. Treatment options may involve medications to reduce or shrink the armpit lump, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. In many cases, armpit lumps are often the result of excess tissue, infections or skin irritations. Patients who suspect a more serious problem or notice signs and symptoms of a cancerous lump should consult with a physician to rule out potentially life-threatening conditions.

Learn about the causes of armpit lumps and the signs that indicate lumps could be cancerous. "Self.com" How to tell if a lump might be cancerous

More in category

  • Scabies
    Scabies can form in small patches or red bumps, that may cause itching and rashe...
  • Heat Stroke
    Of the 3 types of heat emergencies: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke...
  • 3 Ways to Identify a Fire Ant Bite
    Identify the Insect People who suspect they have been bitten by a fire ant shoul...

Related Content