☹️ Swollen left boob & pain - hormones or something else?

26 y/o Female, 32A cup, 5’5ft, 7st 4lb, size 4 UK, no family history of cancer.

I’m struggling to cope with the pain and swelling I’m experiencing in one boob, which doesn’t appear to be in relation to my period as it has extended past my cycle twice. I originally went to my GP who examined the breast and she wasn’t too concerned as there was no skin changes, but sent me for an urgent referral at the hospital when I stressed that the new asymmetry was not normal for me.

I’ve been examined by both an NHS doctor & a private doctor at Spire healthcare (funded by me personally) following my referral, and both could not find any lumps but acknowledged that the breast tissue felt different to the other normal breast.

I then had two ultrasounds performed by two different radiologists (NHS & Spire), and both could not find any abnormalities, stating that the breast tissue was really clear to read and that it was normal and healthy, and likely down to hormones.

But now I’m left with no answers for what to do and my mind will NOT stop running with the idea that this may be inflammatory breast cancer.

I haven’t slept properly in weeks and when I finally do I wake up throughout the night with racing thoughts. I try to avoid mirrors when changing so that I can’t see the asymmetry, and I absolutely dread showering and try to make that process as quick as possible so that I don’t fixate on them.

Although already slim, I have been restricting eating and minimising food intake in order to maintain my figure for over a year now. I want to latch onto the idea that I’ve just overdone it and messed with my hormones, creating an imbalance. But then there’s that part of me which doesn’t want to rest on this idea in case it is something more sinister. The worry about being misdiagnosed by concluding it to be hormones terrifies me.

Symptoms experienced consistently for the last 6 weeks:

  • Even swelling on just the left breast (about the size I’d expect a week before a period during PMS) which has caused new asymmetry as the other breast remains at a normal size.
    -Pain (ranging from light tenderness when jostled by my arm, to burning sensations every now and then. Sometimes effects the nipples, sometimes doesn’t)

No rashes or skin abnormalities are present. Doctors also said that my lymph glands were not swollen.

Symptoms which may relate but not sure:

-Periods have become lighter and lighter over the past 6 months. I can’t even fill a menstrual cup up halfway after 8 hours on day 1 & 2 anymore whereas ordinarily I could.
-Horrendous mood swings causing emotional outbursts which had me contemplating contacting a GP a few months back regarding PMDD.
-Lack of / less visual cervical fluid (egg white) when ovulating, although a Clearblue test this month showed a positive for peak ovulation levels.

Any help or reassurance on this would be great, it’s not healthy for me to keep Googling what other possibilities it could be when the results only show IBC articles.

I’ve been told by the doctors it’s common but cannot find any reference to anybody else experiencing this in just one boob :frowning:

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Hi , you can also ask for a second (3rd inc private ) opinion on the NHS ( speak to your GP about how anxious this is making you feel . You can call the nurses on the helpline here to talk this through they are very re-assuring and offer very practical advice . It’s hard to shake anxiety when you’ve had no proper explanation but I think alarm bells would have been ringing for the doctors you saw if there were any pointers to inflammatory breast cancer, nevertheless you deserve a proper explanation to help calm your worry . Always people here to talk . Best wishes Jill x

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0808 800 6000 - nurses helpline .

Thanks so much for your reply Jill, I’ll give the GP a ring to enquire about a further opinion x

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Hi all,

As a silent reader before all this, I just wanted to update the post with the next stages in case anybody is having a similar experience themselves.

I couldn’t bear the agonising thoughts I was having so decided to pay to go back to Spire with a different doctor, this one specialising in breast pain.

He was very different from doctors I’d seen before and actually took the time to listen to me fully and even show dated reference pictures of my swelling and pain.

He did a physical exam and sent me for a biopsy the next day (the first doctor I’ve had to suggest this!).

Here are his notes he sent back to my GP:
"On examination the left breast is visibly a little larger than the right but within the range of the normal asymmetry that we would see. It feels generally slightly firmer. Again, this would be in keeping with this being hormonally driven breast tissue which is what has been seen on both occasions when she has had ultrasound. I would agree that the nipple is slightly more protruberant. I also noticed that although there is no overt oedema the skin over the left breast is very slightly thicker than on the right side when pinched and in a couple of areas slightly erythematous.

Although I do not think that this is an inflammatory breast cancer I think there is sufficient uncertainty here that it is worth pursuing a little further. I have asked her to come to my clinic tomorrow morning and I will organise a biopsy from the left breast. If this does turn out to be benign change only then I have said we will be having a discussion about her weight loss and the impact this is having on her hormonal stability and consequently the impact this is having on her hormone levels and her breast symptoms.”

I had 4 biopsy’s in total which was guided by an ultrasound. The radiologist wasn’t sure which areas to biopsy in particular because the scan itself looked okay, so she went by where I felt the pain and also where the thickened skin was.

Everything was numb so I didn’t really feel it, just the initial scratch of the local anaesthetic going in.

I will find out the results next week and hopefully have some further information as to what this is. Although his notes are pointing in a positive direction, I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much in case that isn’t the result from the biopsy.

I’m still very stressed and not sleeping/eating well from this, I’m praying I’ll receive some reassurance next week. I’m most thankful that I’ve finally found a doctor who has taken my pain and symptoms seriously.

Hope all is well with everyone else and if you’re reading this, find some hope that there are doctors out there who are willing to listen! x

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Dear Katherine,

Thank you for coming to the forum. We are all here for you, as we have all been there, and I’m so pleased that you took Jill advice and got another opinion.

Fingers crossed for a good outcome, I do wish you well going forward health and happiness ahead, but most of all you would have helped a lot of people by posting on this site who are in a similar position. Well done to you

Wishing you all the very best with your results, please let us know how you are getting on.

Big hugs Tili :pray::rainbow::pray::rainbow:


Thank you Tili, much appreciated x

Hi everyone,

I received a call at work today from my doctor personally (5 days into waiting for my biopsy) to tell me that my results are all clear!

It’s such a relief, and I’m so grateful for how personable they’ve been throughout this.

They wish to see me in a months time for a follow up (I assume to make sure my symptoms haven’t worsened).

Hopefully by that point some of my pain and swelling will have reduced :crossed_fingers:t3:

Hope all is well with everyone else x

Dear Katherine,

I’m so pleased to read your post, wishing you well going forward, Thinking your follow-up will be to tick all the boxes.

ENJOY CHRISTMAS well done for getting this far.

Hugs Tili​:rainbow::pray::rainbow::pray:

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Thanks Tili, have a fab Christmas! x

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Hi everyone, just a quick update for any readers who may be interested.

It’s been 3 months since this first started, and at the moment my pain is less constant/intense and appears to fluctuate depending on the day.

If I’m sat still then there’s no sensation. On bad days I have more tenderness which is localised to the outer quadrant and around the nipple, which is only sparked when pressed or my arm/something brushes against it in a particular way.

The most bizarre discomfort I feel is when I roll over in bed and get a weird pulling sensation under my nipple. Not sure how else to describe it. This is constant and is there every morning without fail.

Appearance wise, the new asymmetry has remained mostly, however the past few days they are looking more symmetrical but it may be due to pre period swelling.

Interestingly enough I’ve had a few cysts appear in my ‘normal’ boob which I’ve never noticed before - making me wonder whether this is fibrocystic changes (thickening fibrous tissue) that I’m experiencing on the problematic boob.

I also had my follow up at the hospital, my doctor believes that my symptoms have lessened after examining me but wants to do an MRI at the end of the month just to ensure they’ve ticked all options for testing. He’s told me not to worry about it, he wants to do it for my peace of mind.

He strongly believes this is all hormone related and because my symptoms have been ongoing for 3 months, he is prescribing Tamoxifen low dosage and short term to see whether this improves.

Other bits to add:

  • I located a girl on Instagram who had similar symptoms to me and was diagnosed with fibrocystic breasts. She said eventually her pain subsided but she was left with some permanent asymmetry due to the thickening.

  • My GP tried antibiotics to see if the symptoms would clear in case it was an infection. These didn’t work unfortunately.

  • I had an internal pelvic ultrasound (follow up appointment from last year for period issues). Turns out I have 2 cysts on my left ovary and the radiologists is 90% sure from my results that I may have endometriosis (a biopsy would need to confirm this). I’ve heard that cysts on the ovaries can cause hormonal imbalances? Not sure whether this is true or not but just wanted to add it incase.

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Hi everyone,

A final update for you all for anybody who is interested! When I first had my symptoms I was desperate to find a post from someone who had something similar, so I hope this follow up may help others in the future.

I got my MRI results back today (had to wait 4 weeks for them which wasn’t ideal as a worrier). The results are all clear, and the doctor is happy to confidently rule the changes as hormonal.

Around the end of January, my breast which had been painful and swollen, suddenly deflated and felt normal again. I cannot tell you how happy this made me.

Since then, I’ve had strange menstrual bleeding patterns and both breasts have become more fibrocystic in general which also correlates with the hormonal diagnosis.

I will be following up with a gynaecologist moving forward to discuss hormone imbalances.

Thank you to all of the lovely ladies on the forum who supported me through a very difficult and scary time, take care and all the best to everyone here x

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