Ultrasound didn't pick up lump, can they still be wrong?

Hi all

I found a lump in my armpit recently, got it checked out and the doc referred me to the breast clinic, which I went to last week. My lump is under my armpit. The doc (not a consultant… if that makes a difference) found the lump and said she didn’t think it was anything to worry about and I had a mammogram and ultrasound. Although the technician that did the ultrasound could feel the lump it wasn’t showing on the screen and nothing was shown on my mammogram. I came home, feeling a bit better but not completely relieved as I still don’t have an answer as to what the lump actually is. I did ask, and it’s not a lymph node as the technician could see those.
I then switched on the TV to see Alison who is a QVC presenter, on This Morning, talking about her breast cancer and how it was missed on a mammogram and ultrasound and she went away for 6 months before getting it checked again to find out she had breast cancer.
I’m now worrying that the mammogram didn’t show up the lump under my armpit because you can’t actually physically get your armpit that close to the machine, it never actually touches it so that’s how it wasn’t picked up on there and maybe it’s at a stage that’s too small at the moment to be seen on an ultrasound, so what do I do? Do I worry about it (I am) and wait for it to grow so that it IS big enough to be seen or do I just accept that they think it was OK?
I have subsequently read stories about how cancer was missed. Has anyone else had a similiar experience? My initial delight has over the last few days turned to worry again, I still have the lump and no answer as to what it actually is.
Thanks in advance.

Hi Lilly,

Welcome to the Breast Cancer Care discussion forums, you’ve come to the right place for some good, honest support from the many informed users of this site, who I am sure will be along soon to give you that much needed support.

In the meantime, while you are waiting could I suggest that you give our helpline team a ring and have a chat with one of the staff here. Lines are open now until 5pm tonight, (Mon-Fri 9-5 and Sat 10-2), calls are free, 0808 800 6000.

Take care,

Jo, Facilitator

Lilly - you’re obviously going to worry about it so the best thing is to go back to your GP and explain your worries, explaining that you’re worried as you’ve heard cancer doesn’t always show up on mammograms and ultrasounds and you want reassurance that it isn’t cancer. Maybe they saw something that wasn’t cancer and just told you they couldn’t see anything meaning they couldn’t see any cancer. And explain that if it’s not cancer you will want to work out what it is.

Unfortunately, although you’ll get lots of support here, you wont get any reassurances as all of us have had a diagnosis. There are lots of women who have been in your position and have posted in here, but are off, living cancer free and don’t come on the forum anymore - they’d be the ones who would be able to give some more reassuring advice.

My experience was that I was dismissed for months as my lumps didn’t show up on an ultrasound or mamogram and it wasn’t until I broke down in tears and begged for a biopsy that I was finally diagnosed. But I don’t think this is common. I am young and had very firm, dense breasts.

I hope you get to the bottom of it - as you want to get rid of this lump no matter what it is - and don’t want the worry on your mind.

Good luck.


I was dx last year with BC but the lump was in my breast…as BC runs in my family I have been to the GP several times with suspicious lumps…one a few years ago in my armpit…turned out to be nothing other than allergy to deodorant!!!..saying that, it is v worrying and my advice to you is the same as ST above…go back to your GP and explain your worries…you do learn to be assertive after dx…it’s your body and your head that is worried!!!..the quicker you get to the bottom of this the better for your physical and mental wellbeing…M

I agree with all the advice above. Be persistent if needs be to put your mind at rest. My lump didnt show on a mammogram but could be seen on u/s.
I think you need reassurance from your GP / medics you saw.
Take Care,

I agree with being persistent about things if you are concerned. I could feel my lump but not see it, it was picked up by the mammo / ultrasound and the subsequent biopsy result came back clear along with my blood tests. I was told I had a fibroid and asked what I wanted to do - I asked to have it removed and I went into hospital for a day procedure 3 weeks later.

A good job I did because it was hiding the tumour. A few weeks later I had my lymph nodes removed and the cancer was in 1. That was 6 years ago this month and to this day I am glad I insisted on the fibroid being removed - I just had a bad feeling about it being there.

Hi Lilly.I understand your concern and it is always best to get any concerns checked. I myself had breast cancer two years ago,fine now. My daughter recently found a lump under her armpit just like you and of course I went into panic mode as I know from reading posts on here that girls in their twenties are getting breast cancer too.She had an ultrasound and was told it needed further investigation (much to my horror!)The next appointment she had a biopsy and to everyones relief it turned out to be breast tissue and nothing sinister ,so what im trying to say is try not to worry its most probably benign but I would go back to the doctor and see if you can arrange a biopsy to put your mind at rest
Take care

It is possible to have a lump in the armpit without it showing up on a mammogram-I was dx with breast cancer folowwing 2 negative mammos (one on the day I was dx). it was however picked up by ultrasound and confirmed as breast cancer following a biopsy.I was fobbed off for several years by doctors telling me the lump was not suspicious.Whilst yours may well be nothing sinister if you are unhappy push for another appointment and ask them to biopsy the lump.It is actually unlikely you will se a consultant unless cancer is actually confirmed so that part is not unusual.I am sure they gave you a contact number for the breast unit so why not phone them and discuss your concerns, one thing I have found out about having cancer is you soon learn to be assertive.

Thank you all, I wasn’t given a phone number for the breast clinic. I think I’ll keep an eye on it and then go back to the GP if it doesn’t go.

So sorry you all had bad news, best wishes for a speedy recovery. x

Now this has grabbed my attention. I have had the feeling of carrying a small plum stone under my arm for around two years now. I went to the GP, was referred to clinic, have had numerous scans, biopsies, on a fibroadenoma, that was removed, have had a cyst drained recently resulting from fat necrosis, and a three month follow up. At that follow up, I was told I had reactive lymph nodes. Go away and we will hand you over to national screening at 47. I am 44.
The pain in my arm, has increased, it is six months since my surgery, last week I went back to my doctors, I can not move my left arm, yet there is no palpable lump, but the movement is restricted, not upwards but outwards, I cannot open the passenger door of a car, yet I can lift things up. It is the strangest feeling ever. I also have swollen lymph nodes in my groin and in my neck. I first went to my GP who is wonderful, with this armpit feeling in January, and the problem is still there. Ultra sound is not picking anything up, that is a breast ultra sound. What she has now referred me for is a more detailed ultra sound for under my arm, which will cover the whole axilla area, as this may not be a breast problem, so I am being fully investigated. I have no fever, so I know it is not an infection.
My point to this long winded story is that you do need to return to your GP, and tell him/her that you are still having problems. A breast ultra sound does not cover the whole axilla area and they tend to concentrate on one particular area, I would suggest asking for a more detailed ultra sound on your axilla area so that the whole area can be looked at. Don’t be afraid to ask, you deserve to be looked at and have your concerns addressed.

Hi, its been some time since I have been on site. Going through chemo so just felt too tired or rough. I have 2 sessions left (had to have 6 in total). It started with FEC - but the complete chemo treatment is FEC-T, the T standing for DOCTAXEL. Although I was told this part of the treatment was hard, I did not realise just how hard it would be. I am just coming round to feeling normal, although like all of us very tired. I’ve already been back to hospital because they thought I was getting an infection - had sore throat and slight cough, because white blood count was very low. I am now on anitbiotics. What I really need to know how can I help keep my white blood count up and not risk infection. I have more or less put myself in isolation, but just need some help as to what I can do. Is there anyone out there who is or has had the same treatment.
Thank you so much for listening as at the moment, although my Macmillian nurse is lovely, I do feel quite alone and isolated.
Janet xx

Dear Janet,
I am sorry you are feeling isolated, it is bad enough doing time with chemo without that as well.
Re the low white bloood cell count, it seems to vary widely as to whether one is given white blood cell booster injections after each chemo. Perhaps you could ask your chemo team about this? I was given the booster injections from the beginning, perhaps because I had other illness which might cause problems. I still had a very low white count in the first cycle but it was never shown to be low again.
I have never heard of anything convincing re special foods etc to boost the white cell count, i.e. something that has been shown by careful research to work. I was told by a fellow patient to have manuka honey daily but the chemo team looked at the “raw honey” label and said don’t do it. Looking up research about Manuka showed ithas been found to have antibiotic properties but not white cell boosting properties.
Again, it seems to vary between different chemo units as to how much they give advice about avoiding infection from food. I avoided live yoghurts and unpasteurised cheeses and patés and raw eggs and possibly undercooked meats in the way that pregnant women are advised.
I cheerfully avoided people as I so much wanted to avoid colds and chest infections, and only went out and about in the last few days before each chemo, when my white count was probably OK, but it wouldn’t suit everyone.It was the depths of winter for me and I used the phone and Skype a lot to keep in touch.
Have heard of teachers being told not to work during chemo because of the risk of infection. One of the posters here told recently that her children’s school had made a brilliant infection avoiding system whereby she was allowed to drop her child into the school office after the other children had gone in, so she avoided the possible cloud of infection at the school gate.
Hope some of this helps you to ask for more advice from your chemo team, and hope you have no further problem.
Perhaps it would help to post this as a new subject? Ask the BCC team how to do it, as you may get more responses as a separate thread than in this one.

Hello Janet62

Whilst waiting for further replies you may find it useful to talk things through with a member of our helpline staff who are there to offer emotional support as well as practical information.

The free phone number is 0808 800 6000 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00 to 5.00 and Saturday 10.00 to 2.00.

With best wishes

June, moderator

Hi janet
During chemo lst year I was admitted to hospital with a nasty infection which led to neutrophenia. After that I was given white blood cell booster jabs 48 hours after each chemo. maybe you could ask for that? I was also advised to eat as much red food as I could by my BCN; red cabbage, strawberries, raspberries, beetroot etc. The combined effect was that my white blood cells and my neutophils were fine for the rest of my treatment so maybe worth a try?
Good luck

Hi Janet,
I was on the exact same regime as you and i finished my chemo 6 weeks ago now. I would ask about the white cell boosting injections you can have. I had 2 types :-

  1. i started off on ‘GCSF’. This was a course of injections for 5 days, the first one being administered the day after chemo
  2. they the switched me to ‘Neulasta’. This is a longer acting drug, so i only needed the one injection that was given the day after chemo.
  3. my Oncologist also gave me antiobiotics as a preventitive measure. I started them Day 8 post chemo for a week.
    I know all oncologists dont work the same way, but it might be worth discussing these things with your team further.
    Also, you are at your lowest immune system wise around day 10 for a few days - so i tended to avoid people. I know that sounds like i became a hermit - i didnt. I just avoided going out for a few days so i didnt pick up any germs.
    Unfortunately - i think some times getting an infection is common and comes with the territory unfortunately :frowning:
    Take Care, and hope this advice helped a little.

hi janet if u are still worried ask for biospsy as they wasent sure what my lump was so had to do the biopsy and it was found to be bc …but it could just b a blocked duct good luck with whatever you decide hun xx

sorry that was meant for lilly chemo brain lol janet eat lots of red stuff i eat beetroot steak black pudding etc and so far been fine xx