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Hardness under armpits


Re: Hardness under armpits

Hi Jacq

Thank you for your post.

It is understandable following breast reconstruction and lymph node surgery you want to know if what you are experiencing is normal.

After surgery and in the weeks and months that follow, it’s common to feel some discomfort and swelling. As healing takes place, these effects usually subside and for most people this happens within a few months. However, for some, they can persist.  A change in sensation in the upper arm and armpit following surgery to your lymph nodes can sometimes make the surrounding area feel more swollen. If you are concerned about any part of your recovery, it may be helpful to talk to your breast care nurse or treatment team. Doing regular arm exercises may help regain arm and shoulder movement and improve symptoms following surgery.  Your breast care nurse, surgeon or a physiotherapist are the best people to assess your symptoms and talk to about if any additional exercises may help you.

It can be difficult finding a comfortable bra to wear following surgery. Your breast care nurse may be able to suggest to you what sort of bra to try at this time.

Many people are surprised at how emotional they feel when their treatment finishes. Adapting to life after treatment can be difficult and often the need for information and support continues. You may be interested in our resources that are particularly for those who have come to the end of their main hospital treatment. These are known as our Moving forward services and include our Moving Forward resource pack and our Moving Forward online course. 

The course is open to people who have had a primary breast cancer diagnosis and have finished their hospital-based treatment within the last two years.  You can find out more and register for the programme on our website. 

Also talking to someone who has had a similar experience can be helpful and our Someone Like Me service can arrange for one of our volunteers to talk to you by email or telephone. Our volunteers have had a personal experience of breast cancer and are trained to provide support.

You can ring the Someone Like Me team on 0345 077 1893 or email them at someone.likeme@breastcancernow.org,so they can then match you to your volunteer. 

Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks.

The number is 0808 800 6000 (Text relay prefix 18001).

If you would like a nurse to call you do complete this form. Ticking the box agreeing to a call back.

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 4pm and 9am -1pm on Saturday. Out of hours you can leave a message and we will call you back when we next open.

Please be aware our Helpline will be closed on Monday 31 May for the bank holiday. We will also be closed on Saturday 8 May for training purposes. 

Best wishes


Breast Cancer Now Nurse

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Re: Hardness under armpits

Hello @JacqW 

I only had a single mastectomy without reconstruction or implants but how well I recognise that feeling of not being able to put your arms against your sides. I hate to say it, but 14 months after my lymph node clearance, I still have that feeling. Some days it is worse than others, but always there, as though I am carrying something bulky and prickly under my arm. It must be very disconcerting for you to have that uncomfortable alien feeling on both sides. I am told it is due to nerve damage that may or may not improve over time. I live in hope... Fingers crossed that you see a much speedier improvement of the problem. 

Good luck! x


Hardness under armpits

I have recently had a double mastectomy with lymph node removal in both and have had implants.  After 2 months I still feel quite swollen under my armpits and this is uncomfortable with my bra and I feel my arms don't sit against my sides.
There is a bulge of tissue which was very hard but is now a bit softer and this seems to be connected into my new breasts.  Although I am plumpish this bulge was a lot smaller before my operation.
Is this normal?  If so, how long does it take to clear and are there any exercises that might help?

Regards - Jacq