Questioning the doctor


I would appreciate some advice from anyone as I am working myself into a bit of a state with worry.

Last week I went to the doc with a lump under my left armpit, it had been there for about a month. To me, it felt hard and unmoveable. He took a look, gave it a prod or two and declared that it was a sebaceous cyst and that there was nothing to worry about. He didn’t examine my breasts at all.

I looked up sebaceous cysts on the internet - as you do - and found that they apparently move whereas a cancerous lump is immobile. Mine certainly feels like it cannot move, like it is attached to a muscle or something. Does that make sense? Anyway, now it seems to have grown slightly and my underarm is aching a bit. I don’t know if that is just because I am constantly aware of it and my imagination is running overtime.

I feel that there might be more to this lump and would like a proper check. How do I go about it without making the doc feel inadequate and cheesed off? After all, he is the expert and should know what’s going on - he must know the difference between a cyst and any other worrying lump? Shouldn’t he?

Am I just being paranoid? If anyone can give me any advice I’d be very grateful.

Hi Intombi

I would go back to see the GP and tell him you think it has grown, however if you do not think you want to see the same Dr then maybe there is another one at surgery you can see, there is no harm asking for a 2nd opinion.

I would have thought although I am no expert if it were a cyst and is causing discomfort it could be aspirated maybe you could mention that to him as weel

Good luck and hope this helps


Hi Linda

Thank you. I will give the surgery a ring tomorrow because I think there is a different doctor on duty on a Friday. Could you tell me what you mean by aspirated?

I don’t know why I feel so awkward wanting a second opinion but I just have a niggling feeling that this lump is more than a cyst. I’d also like to know exactly what a moveable lump feels like, if anyone could tell me, compared to one that is fixed. Is it able to move about under the skin?

Thanks again for your advice.

Hi there

I think the guidelines are that anyone over 3o with a palpable lump should be referred or those with a lump that has enlarged/ I may be incorrect because its a while since I looked, but if i was you, I would go back and say that this lump has grown, is still concerning you and if it is a cyst, you would like it confirmed as such. If he still refuses, I would ask to see another GP.

Hi Intombi

Sorry to read that you are still so worried after your GP appointment, you may find our leaflet ‘Breast Awareness’ helpful to read, you can read it via the following link:

If you wish to talk things through with one of our specialist breast care nurses please call our helpline for more information and advice, the number to call is 0808 800 6000 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and Sat 9am-2pm.

Best wishes

Hy Intombi, is there not a well woman clinic near you that you could go and get another opinion?? might be worth having a look for one, then it saves you the embarrassment of going back and your dr being funny with you.

A sebaceous cyst is very easy to remove and your GP should be removing it or referring you to another Dr who can. This would then confirm what it is for certain and put your mind at rest. As long as there is no infection, you would need local anaesthetic and a couple of sutures.

I would go back and see him and say you would like it removed.

I hope you can soon stop worrying.

Hi there

Go and see a different doctor. Do not be fobbed off hun. My doctor told me I had no lump, I went back a second time and was told to stop being paranoid as my mum has bc and she refused to examine me. I went to the emdocs, five weeks ago and low and behold I was right! I have been to the breast clinic, had the mammograms, ultrasounds, core biopsies, fna biopsies, and have abnormal cells. I am going into hospital to have the lump removed next Friday! So in five weeks I have gone from no lump (according to my pathetic doctor) to an operation to have it removed because the cells are abnormal, DO NOT BE FOBBED OFF!!! If I had not taken action as I know my own body, god knows what could have happened if my lump was not removed by surgery and analysed!!!

The doctors at breast clinics are fantastic, but I am afraid to say GPS like to play god and very often get it wrong.

Incidentally, my friends friend has cancer of the small intestine. It is terminal. She went to her gp for three years, complaining of diaraear, blood in stools and a weight loss of 3 stone. The doctor kept sending her away and saying it was irritable bowell. One day she collapsed and ended up in casualty. She has cancer! They found the liver cancer first, but didnt find the primary which was the small intestines till afterwards. Needless to say she is dying and leaves three children, GP’s get it wrong and often!!!

Please don’t delay go and get a second opinion!!


Ask to be sent to the Breast Clinic and that you want it checking, and don’t take no for an answer!! I went to my GPs in October 2004 with a small lump right breast. It was very tiny, and sometimes on examination I could feel it, sometimes not, but when I went to GPs he couldn’t feel it and said didn’t think it was anything to worry about. However, after the New Year, end of January time started to realise I had two tiny lumps, eventually referred to Breast Clinic end of February beginning of March 2005. Underwent lumpectomy, found out it was lobular breast cancer in the right breast, with a 30% chance of it spreading to the other breast, although it hadn’t spread to the nodes. I underwent bilateral mastectomies in May 2005, followed by initial reconstruction. Had an infection in the left breast following recon, and had to have implants removed, and then had to wait for a few months to allow time to settle, then had reconstruction redone gradually with explanders and finally permanent implants in December 2005. My Consultant in my GPs defence said it was a hard cancer to detect, but a 6 months delay
could have made a huge difference had it been in the nodes, I was just fortunate it wasn’t. So my advice would be listen to your own intuition, and don’t be fobbed off.

Best of luck