paranoid about lymph nodes

I keep feeling that the lymph nodes under my right arm are hurting, swelling and tingling. I have felt this since diagnosis so it might be paranoia but the waiting is really getting to me. MRI scan on Tue, will they be able to tell from that if the lymph nodes are affected?

Hi Rosemary -
I didn’t have an MRI scan on my lymph nodes…at dx the Director of the Breast Care Centre, who did my mammo,ultrasound and core biopsy, told me that when they did the lumpectomy they would check “sample nodes” - I didn’t even know I had lymph nodes under my armpit at that time. My recall was as a result of a regular 3 yrly mammo, my 3rd one, which showed a mass. At the WLE they sampled 8 nodes, 2 were positive, so I went back a month later for total axillary removal. Another one positive, so glad they were checked. This meant chemo as well as rads, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Now NED (No Evidence of Disease - best 3 words in the English language!).

With hindsight I realised that although I had a non palpable mass, I did have some weird pains down my right arm, like electric shocks, only lasted a few minutes and I put this down to old age, rheumatism, whatever, as there is no bc in the immediate family and as I didn’t have a palpable lump did not suspect bc at all.

It is 5 yrs now since my dx, and I guess tests,scans etc. have moved on dramatically, so it may be possible for an MRI scan to show abnormal lymph nodes. Hopefully someone who has recently been dx will come along soon with more up to date information/experience than I have.
Do you have a date for a lumpectomy/mastectomy? At dx I was actually given a surgery date 10 days ahead which was a real shock. I was treated at a Breast Care Centre of Excellence, so this may have had some bearing on how quickly I was treated.

Hope the scan goes okay on Tuesday and they give you the results the same day.

Take care and good luck.

thanks Liz
My date for surgery is 14th July. I’m not coping at all. My newish (since Feb) partner left me last night. He had promised to be my rock.
They won’t give me the scan results til a week later, and the waiting is hell.

With a small tumour it is unlkely your lymph nodes are affected. Nodes can swell for all sorts of reasons, usually not cancer. I thought some of mine on the opposite side were swollen, but when I asked my oncologist to check she said ‘those are not swollen lymph nodes, those are just normal’ and really I had never felt nodes before (didn’t know anything about them), so had started to imagine all sorts of things.

Even if there is a problem, there are loads of ladies on this forum who had affected nodes and are doing fine.

thank you Sarah, that has made me feel a bit better. The tumour is 1.2 cm x 9 mm

1.2 x 9mm is very small, I don’t think they ever find them less than 1cm. Mine was 1.9x1.9. There are lots of women here who had very large tumours, ie more than 5 cm, and have been successfully treated.

How did you discover the tumour, did you find it yourself?

i meant 1.2 cm x 9 mm
i found it but left it for at least 8 months thinking i was being a hypochondriac

Thats what I thought you meant - its still very small. It probably grew during the 8 months, so its understandable you didn’t pay much attention at the start. I didn’t find mine at all until the size of a large grape, I can’t imagine now why I didn’t check, but life gets hectic and it never crossed my mind.

You did very well to find it so early. Survival rates are very high these days for small tumours like this.

I think your are booked for an operation on the 14th? You may need to get some pyjamas (spelling?) and things, there are other threads with tips and advice for hospital which I could look up for you if you want.

thankyou,is it true that if you have a positive attitude you have a better survival chance? because if it is, at this rate i’ll be dead by er, about 6 pm

No, its not true - I have just brought a thread 'Cancer can’t be beaten by positive thinking up to the top for you!

Just as well for most of us!

thanks for that, as i am getting tired of people telling me to think positive (no offence meant to anyone on here, I mean people without BC)

Hi Fiona

I am totally with you on this one! Since my dx I have become paranoid about my lymph nodes. I thought my armpit felt swollen and uncomfortable that much so I have had it checked twice since dx. Although I am told I feels fine it still doesn’t feel right to me!

I had a CT scan last week and it only showed the lump in my breast. I have no idea if a CT or MRI would show anything in our lymph nodes but sense tells me if there is something there it would show up??? Can anyone help on this??

Be rest assured you are not the only one thinking your being paranoid. I am having surgery on 15th July, maybe we could compare notes afterwards!

As for being positive, at times it is hard. You have to wonder why some people say the things they do but in their defence they may not know what else to say and think they are being helpful.

Good luck with the MRI tomorrow

Catherine x

Hi Fiona,

You will of course worry about absolutely everything now, esp given the rest of the cr@p on your plate. I suppose the most sensible thing I can say is that if your lymph nodes are affected or not it makes no difference; your surgery is booked, they will either sample or remove nodes at that time and you will be having chemo anyway to stop this disease in it’s tracks. The surgeon will be confident that the timing is right - it’s only 2 weeks away now and most cancers take months and years rather than days and weeks to get to be more damaging… you have been fantastic in spotting yours so early and have significantly increased your prognosis by doing so.

You sound a bit better now, at this time, - it is so hard in the dark hours of the morning. I hope you have ears to bend in real life too, not just in cyber space! - and not the samaritan lady either!

Big Love Td x


I too am paranoid about my lymph nodes. Until dx I was running around like a blue a***d fly! Never ill - now recently dx I seem to have every pain possible. pain in shoulder, under arm etc. I sure it is just my mind going overdrive - CT scan said all clear - but you just keep thinking this b*****d is moving all over the place. Waiting for the op (16th July) is torture - if I could I would slice the thing off myself. Feeling positive most of the time - then thinking I am not taking it serious enough! Reading this site makes me realize this is all normal and helps me get through the bad times. Thinking of you - its amazing how strangers are the people who give us the support we need.

Hope all goes well with the MRI


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Hi Rosemary,

I was dx in Dec '07 at 42 years old with a 3.5 cm triple negative tumour - I have a three year old daughter. I have had 7 sessions of chemo (they decided not to go ahead with the final session of chemo as my tumour had started growing again). At that time my prognosis was very, very bleak - I had convinced myself that I would not be around to see my daughter grow up. I had mast and recon (implant) three weeks ago. I went to get the results of my surgery two weeks ago and couldn’t believe it (nor could my surgeon) when the results came back that ALL my lymph nodes were clear. I had convinced myself that the nodes were involved because I was suffering a lot of pain under my arm and it felt very, very swollen. Even now, I still cannot believe that my nodes weren’t involved considering the tumour was of a sufficient size. Please hold onto the fact that your tumour is considered to be very, very small - I would be extremely surprised if it has spread to your nodes. If the nodes are affected, this will only show up on an MRI scan if they were quite large - anything small will not show up which is why they take sample nodes at time of surgery and send them away to the lab for testing - the lab test will show up any tiny micro cells in the nodes which could not be detected by any other means. I know you are having a particularly bad time at the moment Rosemarie, but believe me things will get better. You can only take a step at a time, get through each part of your treatment a step at a time and gradually you will feel your strength coming back. I too was in a really bad place not too long ago, but knew I had to try to be strong for the sake of my daughter. Best wishes, Jacqui xx

Hi Jacqui

Just wanted to butt in and say excellent news about your surgery and results. So thats it now is it? no more chemo that bastard tumour gone !!
I read a post of yours a while back that made me sob about the tumour growing…!! Now I am smiling for you. I am also a triple negative 2.5cm had mast back in feb going through chemo now. I had 2 nodes involved and thats something I can’t change I just have to accept it and believe that my chemo is doing the trick.

I am 43 with a 20mnth old and 6yr old and everyday I look at them and pray I will be about to see them both married, happy and settled. I still have down days but on the whole am getting on with life.

Good luck ladies we are all sitting here in cyber world hand in hand…remember that.

Love P xxxx


See my earlier post concerning “The Perils and Pitfalls of Positive Thinking”.


Hi Paula,

You have brought tears to my eyes as I never expected to read such a lovely post - thank you so much !!! It is so nice to hear from another triple negative lady especially as you are the same age as me and with young children. Good luck with the rest of your treatment. It is a finger up to the big C that you are getting on with your life. I hate this awful disease, it seems especially cruel when it affects mothers with young children who just want to get on with their life, do the best for their children, watch them grow into adults and be there for their life’s ups and downs - not much to ask really. I am feeling your hand in mine and wishing you health and happiness. Lots of love, Jacqui xx

Hi Jacqui

Awww dont you will get me going again…having one of those emotional days…!!! Its the mega finger up at C…and the rest. I hate it too but I do think about no-one knowing what lies ahead so get on with living it as much as I can.

So what’s next Jacqui?? Rads???

Keep holding tight…health happiness and love to you and your’s

P xxxxx


I had 1.8cm lump hormonr receptive HER2 neg But when I went for results I had sentinal node biopsy they had only taken ! but it was positive and my Bc sur said that rather than do more invasive ops they stuck me on chemo so I know I have the little blighter still there as they now say its in my lymph system so Ive put my faith in My onc and god.