4 Symptoms That Indicate an Armpit Lump Might Be Cancerous
Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD
Most people have experienced lumps in some form, especially if they’re older. Most often, lumps are harmless, but, in some cases, they may indicate a dangerous, underlying condition or illness. For example, lumps that form in the armpit area may be formed from extended breast tissue or swollen lymph nodes — and that could be a cause for concern. With this in mind, it’s important to watch for changes in size and feel. Moreover, pay attention to how long a lump lasts and if any additional lumps form.
Note: If you experience or notice any of the following symptoms, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
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, namely 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 over a longer period of time should be assessed by a medical professional.
Formation of Additional Lumps
Breast tissue can extend up into the armpit region to produce lumps in the armpit area. While this is 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 underlying infections or disease.
It’s important to note that people of all genders 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 lumps 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 associated with lumps indicative of cancerous cells, so that they can consult with a medical professional if needed.