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Health anxiety and lump in armpit

(20 Posts)
Mylittlepuds Mon 24-Dec-12 23:13:20

So...I have serious health anxiety. However I also have a lump in my armpit. I know it could be one of a number of things but two GPs now have said it's a blocked sweat gland and that it feels superficial.

However after doing dreaded Google research I have convinced myself it's some kind of lymphoma or cancer. It doesn't hurt and isn't tender and to me it feels deeper than "superficial".

How likely is it - after seeing two GPs - that it's something sinister? I'm driving myself mental with this - and my DH. Help!

Selks Mon 24-Dec-12 23:40:06

Thinking rationally and realistically now, how likely do YOU think it is??

(It's not very likely at all)

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 25-Dec-12 08:51:12

The anxiety is irrational, however you need something concrete to put your mind at rest. Could the GP do a fine needle aspirate that hopefully a pathologist will read and say is a blocked sweat gland giving you concrete evidence.
I think it is the uncertainty that is the worst.

Mylittlepuds Tue 25-Dec-12 09:45:10

Thank you for your replies - at this time of year too! smile very kind.

Selks - I know, I know. But I do need that cut and dry answer rather than 'we think' it's this - and 'let's wait and see'.

I think if it's not gone in say a week I'll ask for what you've suggested Lonecat. Seems like a positive step forward.

Hope you both have a lovely day!

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 25-Dec-12 18:51:41

I've had hodgkin's lymphoma 20 years ago. Generally, if lumps are mobile and 1cm or less in size, then they are unlikely to be anything nasty. So if your doc has already said it is nothing to worry about, then chances are it isn't anything to worry about. My lumps felt hard, they were immobile, painless and solid - and they were much bigger than 1 cm. I also had a raised white cell count and a very high ESR, which prompted the doctor to refer me to a haemotologist. I don't know if that helps or makes it worse, but I hope it doesn't make it worse for you. I also have anxiety so I feel for you! If you're still worried, go back to the doctor and ask for a full blood count - this won't diagnose but will show up if things need further investigation - which is unlikely as lymphoma is not hugely common.

Mylittlepuds Tue 25-Dec-12 20:25:46

One way - thank you. You have helped to (almost) settle a very anxious lady! I really appreciate you taking the time out to reply. I'm pregnant so hoping that it that it was HL it would have shown up in my blood like you've very helpfully suggested? I'm six months now though and had them done at booking in. Not sure how recently bloods need doing to be reliable?

The lump is painless, hard, I can't work out if it moves and is bigger than 1cm - so DH is going to come back to the doctors with me just to explain about my anxiety and how worried I am over it. I haven't had any other symptoms though - did you? It's also the only lump I think apart from ones on my arm which the GP insists are ganglions. My God I must sound neurotic! I have a chronic condition and so I think i'm also going to diagnosed with everything else...

How fantastic that you were diagnosed 20 years ago and are well. Is the prognosis generally good? I know a young man who's had it since being a teenager and he's in his early 20s now and fighting fit.

Thanks again for your response :-)

OneWaySystemBlues Tue 25-Dec-12 22:55:50

I think that they probably do do a full blood count when you're pregnant and so would probably notice a raised white count. But it's always worth getting things checked out and going back and mentioning all your worries is a good thing because hopefully they can put your mind at rest. Anything that doesn't go is always worth checking out, especially if you explain how worried you are.

I did have other symptoms - just generally run down and very, very tired. I have never been so tired since, not even when I was pregnant and that is tiring, as you know! It wasn't just feeling sleepy and needing a nap, it was absolutely "i have to go to sleep right now" and sleeping for hours sort of tiredness. Never felt so tired before or since. I also had vague sort of virus symptoms that wouldn't go away, and a big lump in the side of my neck. Other symptoms can be weight loss, night sweats and very itchy skin. I did have weight loss, but not night sweats or itching.

The prognosis is generally good for hodgkin's lymphoma. It is considered a very treatable cancer and even more so today than it was 20 years ago. I was lucky enough to remain fertile and have 2 children. I'm considered "cured" now, after 21 years - finished treatment in 1991!

Mylittlepuds Fri 28-Dec-12 08:43:32

Hi one way smile

I've been to docs this morning. So...he has arranged to ultrasound it. He says that he can move it and its in the sebaceous layer and so doesn't think it's lymphoma.

OneWaySystemBlues Fri 28-Dec-12 19:47:22

Brilliant. I know it's hard when you have health anxiety - but hopefully that's put your mind at rest. Dodgy lumps really do feel different and your doc will know the difference, but it's good he listened to you and is ultrasounding to be sure, which should make you feel better. Being listened to makes all the difference! Hope you're feeling better now.

Mylittlepuds Fri 28-Dec-12 20:27:47

Thanks for the lovely reply oneway. I really appreciated your input. That's exactly what he said - dodgy lumps just 'feel different' and I've seen three GPs now

Do you think your health anxiety started with your lymphoma diagnosis? I'm type one diabetic diagnosed a few years ago (I'm early 30s now) and I wonder if it's linked with the diagnosis.

OneWaySystemBlues Fri 28-Dec-12 22:32:32

I think it might have. Because before that I wasn't really anxious about health. I was only 21 and I thought the worst it could be was glandular fever - I was going round saying "OMG I REALLY hope it isn't glandular fever!!" then a few weeks later was wishing it had been. I remember going into WHSmith and looking up "lymphoma" in a medical dictionary (I'd seen it on a bloods form) and freaking myself out. Everyone was telling me it would be nothing but after that I knew it would be bad. Then after I was diagnosed I sort of kept thinking, I was right once, I could be right again. So my default turned from not thinking about my health to thinking that every little thing could be something bad. It is a lot better than it used to be - I've had counselling and CBT and have ways of dealing with things. But I think I've realised I'll always be anxious, but that the things I've learned help to deal with the anxiety.

I have a friend with type 1 diabetes - she was diagnosed in her early 20s - and is much the same with health anxiety. She thinks it is related to her diabetes because it has such an impact on your life and I guess you're constantly having to monitor your blood sugar and on the look out for things in your body not being right - and you can sort of get over sensitised to looking for stuff. I think that's how I feel. I notice EVERYTHING! My chances of other cancers are greater than a relapse of lymphoma now, so I don't worry so much about lymphoma as I've got other things to worry about - which means that at times, every little symptom turns into "is this cancer? I was right before...."! But realistically, I just had some bad luck. Most times things aren't cancer and part of the CBT/counselling is tapping into that. Most times things aren't cancer; if something worries you, keep an eye on it but dont' over monitor, give your self a deadline, e.g. if the symptom is still there in x days/weeks, then go to the doc and get it checked. And don't google too much!

Mylittlepuds Sat 29-Dec-12 20:17:23

You have actually just summed me up to a tea!! I was much the same - diagnosed myself but then was messed around for ages by the doctors, so have little trust in them now. It's amazing really how all of your past experiences affect you SO much.

Thank you so much for being so kind to me smile. It has really meant a lot.

iamamug Sun 30-Dec-12 12:11:56

I had a lump in my armpit during my last pregnancy and was very worried about it as my best friend had breast cancer at the time ( she has since sadly died)
My consultant was very understanding of my worries and although was convinced it was fine, he arranged for me to have an ultrasound.
It turned out to be a lump of fat ( ganglion type thing) and 10 years later it is still there!
It felt very similar to what you are describing.
Hope that reassures you but I know you need a medical expert to put your mind at rest.
Good luck with this and of course - baby.

ClairesTravellingCircus Sun 30-Dec-12 12:28:53

Hello mylittlepuds

I was going to suggest an u/s but I see you have had one arranged.

I totally understand your anxiety I had b/c 5 years ago and initially it was misdiagnosed, so was a friend of mine's, only she insisted on further unvestigation and caught it early, I trusted the dr and ended up with having diagnosis at a much later stage (4cm and gland involvement).

I now always recommend people to insist on instrumental investigations. Much better ti be a nuisance than risk your own life. I was very lucky in that my treatment worked brilliantly but had to give up a very much wanted pregnancy to be able to save my life (had 2dc already).

Am very happy you are beeing checked and please do come back with the results. <hugs>

Mylittlepuds Sun 30-Dec-12 17:42:14

Hi lama! Thanks much for your reply. I really hope that's what it is - its do worrying though and none of my family can understand why it's upsetting me so much as I've now seen 3 different GPs! I just don't feel certain though and it's the uncertainty that's driving me mad! I wonder if it's pregnancy related? Did it develop during pregnancy do you think or did you just spot it then and it had always been there? Arghhh! Keep imagining being given awful news :-(

Hi Claires. Thanks for the lovely advice. I have had a pain in my opposite breast to the armpit lump for about 7 months. I had an ultrasound three months ago and they said it was healthy breast tissue and to put it to the back of my mind but it's hard as it's constant. The armpit lump wasn't there then as otherwise it would have been picked up? I suppose in my mind I've connected the two things. I'm so worried DH has agreed to let me get another U/S privately as the GP has said it could be five or six weeks. I'm so glad your treatment was successful :-) how are you now?

NanaNina Sun 30-Dec-12 18:52:46

I think you've done exactly the right thing and the GP has made a sensible referral. How long do you have to will be "non-urgent" so you could have a bit of a wait. Ah sorry I see you are going privately, probably worth every penny! My dil had this and it was harmless.

Mylittlepuds Sun 30-Dec-12 19:02:15

Thanks Nananina :-) it's lovely to see that I'm not completely bonkers and people can understand my concern!

ClairesTravellingCircus Sun 30-Dec-12 22:47:55

I am fine now thanks, went on to have twins earlier this year so chuffed to bits if a little sleep deprived! smile

I do still get jittery about checkups, and have made myself look very silly at gps with nonexistant minor symptons. But I will never make the same mistake again!

I hesitate to write this as don't want you to increase your worry, but my breast lump was very sore (thst's how I found it in the first place). Another reason why I felt reassured...
Of course in the vast majority of cases (as I'm sure yours will be), it's nothing to worry about.

When is your us?

ClairesTravellingCircus Sun 30-Dec-12 22:55:11

Rereading your message, I imagine they scanned both breasts and they should have scanned your armpits as well so yes, they would have picked it up, unless it was too small.

Breastcancer would spread from breast to same side armpit through the lymphatic systrm, your pain in opposite breast/armpit is very unlikely to be related in this way I would imagine. (As far as I know, I'm no expert of course)

Mylittlepuds Sun 30-Dec-12 23:07:08

Thanks Claire - and congratulations on your twins!! Blimming heck!

They did scan both breasts and armpits. But the pain that's still there, combined with the armpit lump, means I just can't settle. I need to get to the bottom of it! Be it good or bad it's better than burying my head in the sand; even though that's very tempting sometimes.

How lovely that despite your having breast cancer you've recovered and gone on to have twins! What a wonderful thing. Congratulations smile

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