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Lymph Nodes on Ultrasound?

Melimerri Member Posts: 3
edited March 2017 in Not Diagnosed But Worried


I recently had a biopsy on my right breast, and - thank goodness - it came back benign.  Because I am high-risk, my doctor also had the radiologist check my left breast near the area where I had another biopsy years ago.  It took an act of congress to get the radiologist to do this, since the main reason for doing so was peace of mind, but thankfully she did it.

On the left breast, the radiologist found two lymph nodes.  She said they weren't anything to worry about, but I feel them now and am worried about them.  They aren't exactly in the breast, but more along the side - about 5 inches from my underarm, where the breast meets my side.  Does that make sense?

Is it normal to have swollen lymph nodes show up in an ultrasound?  As far as I know, I'm not sick, so I don't know what would make them swell.  The radiologist said that sometimes the lymph nodes under the arms can move and/or swell ... but why?  Has anyone else had something like this?  It's been 3 weeks since the ultrasound, and I still feel them.

I go  back in six months to have the biopsied lumps check again, but they won't be checking the left breast/lymph nodes.  Should I go back to my doctor before then to have him order another ultrasound of both breasts?

Any advice is appreciated!




  • diana50
    diana50 Member Posts: 253
    edited May 2010

    do you have dense breasts?  if so, i believe a MRI would pick up lymph nodes depending on their location.  i think you should be your own advocate if you are concerned about this.  i did have two lymph nodes biopsied at one point (they were b9) but they did show up on mammo and ultrasound.  if the nodes continue to be swollen, after a period of time, i would follow up before the 6 month check.

  • Melimerri
    Melimerri Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2010

    Thanks for your reply, Diana.

    I'm 27, so I guess I do have dense breasts.  Do you know if lymph nodes actually be cancerous?  They showed up as a fuzzy white oval on the ultrasound, and they feel like rounded ovals - very mobile. 

    Breast issues run in my family and I've had several scares ... So far, I've had an excisional biopsy (at 20) and two core needle biopsies.  I have one lump that is too small to biopsy that we will continue to monitor and then these two lymph nodes, so - needless to say - I worry a lot about breast cancer. 

  • diana50
    diana50 Member Posts: 253
    edited May 2010

    varying stages of breast cancer include spread to lymph nodes from tumor found in the breast. for example; i had a small tumor in my breast but spread to 10 lymph nodes.  HOWEVER,,,there are women who have experienced docs not finding a tumor in the breast....but cancer in the lymph nodes.  as i said; if you are high risk; and if your doctor knows this....breast MRI can get a better picture of dense breasts..and also can see lymph nodes.  i am 57 and still have dense breasts....even after all this cancer treatment...etc.  i would follow you don't have to worry so much. it is common for doctors to "monitor" lumps....over a period of time.  i had something in my lung which they "watched". cancer grows....things that are beign don't change or grow. that is one way they 'watch ' it.  hang in there.  there is a lot of good information on these boards...and good to ask questions. those of us who are dealing with breast cancer have pretty good info...but we aren't always check with your doc.

  • jdfnj2
    jdfnj2 Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2010

    Merri - i just went through 5 biopsys 3 fine needle aspirations, 1 core and one surgical.  Two of the fna's were on lymph nodes exactly as you describe - on both sides.  They came back benign, and after asking several docs about them and doing alot of reading - nodes can swell for tons of reasons.  It could be something as stupid as allergies!!  If mine remain swollen, i will insist on further testing.  But since they came back benign, im not that worried.  As far as my docs told me, its not unusual for the nodes to show up on ultrasound - so it totally makes sense.  Keep us posted.


  • Melimerri
    Melimerri Member Posts: 3
    edited May 2010

    Thanks so much for your replies ... I will keep you posted!

  • JennyB
    JennyB Member Posts: 16
    edited May 2010

    Melimerri, My first scare was actually a swollen intra-mammary lymph node on my right side. Mammo said normal lymph node, u/s said "suspicious," I got prepped for a biopsy, and the surgeon wouldn't even do it! It took a while, but by 2-3 months later, the swelling had died down. I think I was fighting some hidden infection.

    Now that I've been diagnosed with b/c (on the other side), they did an MRI and the "thing" on the right once again came back as a normal lymph node.

    I don't have much advice, but I think with this disease it's important to be cautious! Hugs and good luck,


  • Bagira
    Bagira Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2010

    I have a bunch of swollen lymph nodes in my armpit area. I can feel one of them. They looked very suspicious on the ultrasound (I was rated as 4C BIRADS, which is 50-80% probability of cancer) Largest two have been biopsied (core neeedle biopsy), and it showed just reactive lymphoid tissue. Almost a year later, they are still there, no changes though, so my doctor is not concerned any more, although he still wants to monitor them every 6 month.

     From what I read (and I was obsessed about lymph nodes for quite some time), ultrasound can frequently pick up lymph nodes and can tell if they are concerning or not (it has to do with how lymph node looks - shape, whether or not there is fatty helum, whether or not there is abnormal blood flow, size, etc..). If the lymph nodes look concerning, then biopsy is needed, because cancerous and just reactive lymph nodes can look similar on imaging. If your doctor didn't recommend follow up, then probably your lymph nodes looked normal. However, if you are concerned, see if they can do needle biopsy, or at least follow up after 3 months or so to check for stability.

  • alligans
    alligans Member Posts: 4
    edited May 2010

    Bagira, from one lymph node obsessed person to another...high five girl!  You know your stuff!  The only thing that I can add is that you may want to push for an excisional biopsy of the nodes if breast cancer has been ruled out because lymphoma can also show up as a reactive lymph node with a needle biopsy.  BTW, I'm not saying that  you have lymphoma.  Things to watch out for are...hard immobile lymph nodes, increasing number of swollen lymph nodes, and increasing size of swollen lymph nodes.  After my breast cancer scare (benign tumor) I ended up having a lymphoma scare so I'm well read on both diseases.  After several months, I can still feel my swollen lymph nodes (in my neck) but they are actually going away (yay!).  After the breast cancer scare, I freaked out and started feeling my neck for lymph nodes one day and found some.  I kept playing with them non-stop over the course of a very anxious weekend and ended up irrirating them into a big size (almost 2 cm).  I had a FNA of one of the swollen nodes and it came back as benign reactive.  I kept pushing a bunch of ENTs to remove one but none would.  I even went to a hematologist to get his take on the swollen nodes.  Everyone told me to stop touching them and to get scared if they grew.  They never grew (knock on wood) and I've been leaving them alone for a couple of weeks and they are getting smaller.  So, my advice is not to touch them because if they are just reacting to something then touching them will only keep them swollen. 

    How large are the swollen lymph nodes?  Their size should be indicated on the radiologist's report.  Anything under 1 cm is usually just an infection or virus.  1 cm - 2 cm is more worrisome but still within the most likely benign range unless they keep getting bigger or NEVER get smaller (over the course of a few months).  2 cm + should be a red flag! 

    FNA are usually very good when looking for metastic cancer such as breast cancer however they aren't so good when looking for lymphoma. 

    If lymphoma and breast cancer have been ruled out at this point then follow up with another ultrasound in a few months to see if they have changed in size.  You may also want to palpatate your neck, supraclavicular (collar bone), and groin for swollen nodes.  Also take your temperature to see if you're funning a fever.

  • cat08
    cat08 Member Posts: 4
    edited May 2010

    If this helps at all... one of the best surgical oncs I came into contact with in my journey thus far let me watch as she FNAd my lymphnodes before I went into a full on lumpectomy where they need to remove some of them. She mentioned to me, as I could see them dancing around, that it is an extremely good sign when the lymphnodes move around (are not static or tied to one place) and have what looks like fuzz on them. This means, although cannot be validated without actually removing them and microscopically confirming, that the lymphnode is "healthy." or is not metastisized.

     I have a curious question, that may not make sense, but may also, do you wear a bra with underwires? I did for year and my lymphnodes would swell in exactly the same area. I do not know why. 

  • survivorchuey
    survivorchuey Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2014

    Hi Melissa,

    Just last week I discovered two enlarged lymph nodes in the same region that yours are located, it was seen on both mammogram and ultra sound. A fine needle biopsy was ordered and it came back positive for malignant cells. I have been feeling them for a while however it was difficult for the Dr. to locate while doing normal physical examination of the breast. I insisted that I sit up and then she felt it. 8 years ago I had IBC and a mastectomy was done on right breast. Lymph nodes now enlarged on left side.

  • Kris0821
    Kris0821 Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2017

    Someone said that things that are beign in your breats dont grow but that is NOT true. They do grow. I have had 2 breast biapsys and they wete both beign. Unfortunately even though I felt both tumors the mamaograms for each didnt dhow them. They were by my right srmpit area. With both of them I made the mistake of not being my own advocate and waiting about a year to press the issues. I coyldnt take the pain no more. The first tumor grew to be the size of an egg before they removed it and 10 years later the second one was about half that size. They both grew. I got lucky they were beign because I let them go so long. Once you have a tumor your doctor should have you get a mamogram yearly. Now once again I have something in the same place as the other 2, just under my rigjt arm pit. The pain and swelling is unbelievable. I wasnt getting my yearly mamograms like I should of. The doctor can feel it. This time he says its soft. I got a mamogram and yet again like the last 2 they see nothing there and the ultrasound showed limp notes. But my doctor did take a prevaution and i have an appointment with a surgeon. He knows for some reason, i believe its the location and how the mamogram mainly focuses on the large breast part, that tumors never have showed up. My point is dont be a fool like I was thinking it wont happen to me and put off a mamogram. If you feel something, negative tests or not be firm that somethings there. Mamograms are amazing but you could be rare like me and they dont show up. Finally beign tumors do grow, mine grew to the size of an egg. So dont freak out if it is growing just have it tested as soon as you can. Be safe not sorry. My gma put her mamograms off and passed quickly from breast cancer because of it. One day a year for testing seems to be alot to do when it comes to the time to do it. But its not! Being your own advocate and firm with your doctors to get answers and be tested is the only way to go. Dont put it off like I did.

  • MTwoman
    MTwoman Member Posts: 228
    edited March 2017

    Kris0821, This thread hasn't been active for over 3 years, so most likely you won't get a response. ((hugs))