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underarm odor on my surgery side



  • Angelfalls
    Angelfalls Member Posts: 83

    I had never heard this before and had never really made the link, but have to say that my underarm odour definitely changed (got stronger and more pungent), before my initial dx and second recurrence, but not before my first recurrence... How interesting! I wonder if this is also related to anecdotal evidence that cats and dogs can "sniff out" the presence of cancer...?

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519


  • Angelfalls
    Angelfalls Member Posts: 83

    But for me, the smell changed BEFORE diagnosis (as mentioned by OP), went back to normal during treatment and changed again shortly before 2nd recurrence... I now have chemo smell about my whole body, but that is different to the changes before dx.


  • kltb04
    kltb04 Member Posts: 234

    BTDT!  That was a huge part of my discomfort after SNB...couldn't use deo at the time because it was too close to incision, it hurt when I tried to wash it, couldn't shave.  Then I started chemo before I was healed so I felt really ooky!  I knew my hair was going to come out soon but it finally healed up enough that I ever so carefully shaved and now I can wear my deodorant!  And now I don't have to shave, lol!  For the time being at least.

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519


  • Angelfalls
    Angelfalls Member Posts: 83

    Yes, Day - ER/PR+ HER-2 neg... I find this fascinating!

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519


  • Karen3
    Karen3 Member Posts: 37

    Hi Day - I agree with the 'sweet' smell completely......I had the smell BEFORE I was diagnosed on each side so the smell was not due to treatment. My sister is a nurse and I asked if she could smell the difference between my left and right side just before I was diagnosed the second time. I gave her an item of clothing which had been in contact with my underarm area - she said the difference in smell was 'obvious' but not a bad smell - just different. I am very aware of the smell through the day even though I wear deoderant and have two showers a day! The first time I smelt this was just before my first diagnosis and it disappeared after my surgery. But this smell is persisting - even though I had a bilateral mast in Dec 2011. Interesting. By the way, I am fully TN so I am not sure if this is related to hormone sensitive cancers at all.

  • camillegal
    camillegal Member Posts: 15,711

    This is the first time I saw this post---and I thought this had to be me smelling stupid. I swear I think I smell like a family of skunk got mad at me all at one time--it has gotten better. But when I used to go out and put my perfume on everyone would say how wonderful I smelled--now no one does-same perfume--just takes it differently. And I never NEEDED deordorant that much before, now I can't use enough of it.  Well at least I don't think it's my imagination anymore.  Great I can face the world knowing I stink. LOL

  • kathleen1966
    kathleen1966 Member Posts: 67

    I have zero odor on my sugery side.  However, my other armpit smells like cat pee. Sorry to be gross, but it really does. Is that the smell you are talking about?  I can't remember if I had this smell on the other side before cancer.

  • FLwarrior
    FLwarrior Member Posts: 614

    After chemo and then MX I noticed that there was no under arm odor, even if I didn't wear antiperspirant / deodorant.  That lasted for about 6 months.  Recently (9mo PFC and 7mo post UMX) I bought an all natural deodorant.  I put the deodorant on in the morning after my shower and it worked all day.  The problem was that I would wake up the next morning reeking of BO.  I just bought my "regular" antiperspirant / deodorant again, and no smell the next morning.  Has anyone found a natural deodorant that "WORKS"?  It bothers me to use main stream conventional products as they contain aluminum, which I understand is not good for us. It also bothers me to be stinky.

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519


  • mnkid
    mnkid Member Posts: 3

    OK, I noticed about six months or so ago that the odor on my right side had gotten noticably more pungent than on my left side. I was recently diagnosed with DCIS, grade III on the right. I thought I was nutty or something but this is interesting. I'll be having a lumpectomy and possibly a sentinel node bx in a few weeks.

    I'm going to talk to my regular doctor about things at my pre-op exam. She's a two time bc survivor herself so I feel comfortable bringing this seemingly bizzare topic up.

  • Karen3
    Karen3 Member Posts: 37

    Hi mnkid - please let us know what the doctor says! I have to say that my under arm odour on the left side is persisting - even after my bilateral mast recently. I will just be vigilent for now....I really do think there is a connection though.

  • mnkid
    mnkid Member Posts: 3

    Karen3, my doctor said she had never heard of such a connection, especially with DCIS because it is still within the mammory duct.  If my pathology proves otherwise I'll update on this thread.  It may be caused by something totally unrealated. 

  • Karen3
    Karen3 Member Posts: 37
    Hi mnkid - I think your doctor interpreted this as cancer blocking the ducts under the arm in which case invasive cancer would be implicated. But the research on under arm odour and ear wax does not indicate this at all. It simply states that all these functions are related in some way.Interestingly I was discussing this with one of my colleagues at school two years ago (before I was diagnosed with breast cancer the first time). She has a doctorate in Biology and said that she had heard of a connection bewteen ear wax / under arm odour and breast cancer but more research was needed to understand the connection. At the time I was suffering from 'buzzing' in my ears (she was not aware of this). I was found to have very bad ear wax in my right ear just before I was diagnosed with BC on the right side. I still think there is a connection Smile.
  • Hindsfeet
    Hindsfeet Member Posts: 675

    This discussion is interesting. My daughter of late has said I now have a chemical smell and worse BO. She suggested I wash my underarm with baking soda. I know that baking soda kills bad why we put a box of baking soda in our refregerator and etc. I did and she says it works. I don't notice either way having a different smell, but perhaps my smeller isn't working as well :

    As far as the sweet smell, I've noticed few friends (not all diabetic) who are diabetic have a sweet smell. I've heard that they smell sweet especially before dx. With this in mind, since cancer feeds on sugar, I wonder if this maybe a reason some say those who have cancer have a sweet smell? Is it the ferminting of the sugars in our body? Is this what we are smelling? And...I read on another blog about body smell and cancer, where over and over it was said there is a connection between smell and cancer. I' don't know for sure, but can see where it could be. Also, from the blogs I read they mention the smell was sweet. Interesting in regard to sugar/cancer.

    As far as the chemical smell, I wonder if it's the smell of the chemicals that are being flushed through our system. From what my daughter said since taking herceptin I have a chemical smell. For a time my daughter was eating a lot of garlic, she reaked of garlic. Perhaps it's the chemicals of chemo, herceptin, or hormone drugs that is giving off the bad or different body smells.

    In regard to ear wax...I've always had a lot of ear wax even as a small child. It could be that we are fighting something and it's getting rid of junk wax, but then I wonder if wax is normal. I don't see how it relates to cancer. First I heard of it.

  • I had a horrible odor under my arm for 2 years before I was late diagnosis. My doctor said the odor under 1 arm was normal, not to worry. I never had the odor before so I know there must of been some connection to the late diagnosis stage 3C.  After chemo. masectomy and radiation the smell went away for a year. Now it is back. I'm sure it's most likely a brewing reaccurence but the tests and blood work don't see it right now.  That happens unfortunately. There is a reason for the odor to reoccur just like the reason it occurred in the first place was from the breast cancer.  It makes sense. The odor is on the same side the tumor was. Most likely the cancer is in the lymph nodes under the arm. I have never met anyone say that they learned that their odor was okay or went away. This is nothing to be calm about. Peace.

  • Scottiee1
    Scottiee1 Member Posts: 1,790

    Just popping in to say ladies that I now use baking soda as my deodorant and it works even better than the deodorant I used to use before BC.

  • anonymice
    anonymice Member Posts: 52

    This is really interesting!  I've also had a change, but am too in the opposite camp - my bc side has absolutely no underarm odor at all.  My non-bc side hasn't changed.

    I've always had a problem with ear wax as well, just washing my ears with a washcloth does not get it for me.

  • RidingSurvivor
    RidingSurvivor Member Posts: 1

    interesting discussion about the underarm odor.  About 2 years before my diagnosis, I starting having a problem with body odor.  After my mastectomy and the lymph node removal...the odor went away.  I honestly believe it was the poisons being trapped in the lymphatic system that was causing the odor.

  • AmyfromMI
    AmyfromMI Member Posts: 115

    I'm so glad I found this thread! I thought I was going crazy! 😱 Since having a lumpectomy and SLN biopsy on the right three weeks ago, I have developed a pungent "man-like" smell on that side. I don't use anti-perspirant because of the aluminum and shower once or twice a day and my left side is normal. No smell. My right side, even after a shower and good cleaning, the smell comes back quickly. 😟 I've mentioned this to my surgeon's nurse practitioner and she had never heard of this. I'm going in on the 27th for a follow up and will mention it again. Thank you everyone for contributing on this thread! I feel so much better and am relieved I'm not the only one. 😊 Hoping it goes away soon like it did for some of you! Peace!

  • Bren-2007
    Bren-2007 Member Posts: 842

    Hi Amy,

    I have the same problem with my left side.  Next month will be six years since my lumpectomy and the odor is still there.  It never went away.  My radiation oncologist didn't have any explanation for it either.  I don't like to use deodorant either, but I have to on that side when I go out.



  • jenmurph
    jenmurph Member Posts: 1


    I am new to this forum but have recently had a mammary duct blockage and removal of duct..which they thought would be cancer. This continues to cause me problems and hence I go back for surgery soon. My results came back as benign but I also have a smelly armpit on the surgical side. I did not have any of my glands/ nodes removed except for a ductal gland. I haven't mentioned this to my doctor but will do so this Friday when I go back for a review.

  • kbutler
    kbutler Member Posts: 10

    I am 2 1/2 weeks post lumpectomy and SNB and have started to notice odor on surgery side that I didn't have before surgery. I have been a little hesitant to put a lot of deodorant on but opposite side has no odor

  • chisandy
    chisandy Member Posts: 11,223

    Antiperspiraant does NOT cause breast cancer. The worst thing it does is--if you don’t wash it off daily--irritate freshly-shaven or radiation-inflamed skin, possibly clog your pores and cause a reaction akin to prickly heat, or if scented set off respiratory problems in allergic or MCS people nearby you. Wash it off daily, use unscented, and wait at least an hour after shaving and you should be fine.

    And sweat plus ear wax doesn’t cause cancer either, nor is either phenomenon a harbinger of breast cancer. There may be a gene which produces both odd-smelling sweat and copious wet ear wax, and it may be associated with a genetic mutation (or a not-yet-confirmed variant-of-significance) that is predictive of an increased risk of breast cancer. Those without such a gene who have both symptoms and then get diagnosed with bc can chalk that up to coincidence. Shit happens, and often for no damn good reason.

    Which leads me to reiterate: Dr. Google is a quack at best and an idiot at worst. The Internet (and search engines) do not filter for credibility--they let all ideas in the door equally, without regard to the validity of the source. Thus, the N.Y. Times and New England Journal of Medicine get equal billing with those wacko sites that contend Justice Scalia was smothered with a pillow, Katy Perry is really a grown-up Jonbenet Ramsey, the government can spy on your thoughts by using your tooth fillings as antennae, Elvis is still alive (and hanging out with Jimmy Hoffa), and breast cancer is caused by wearing antiperspirant and underwire bras (or bras, period).

    The fact is that messing with axillary lymph nodes, whether by surgery or radiation, can also inadvertently affect nearby sweat glands. Lymph fluid contains proteins, which can degrade over time and develop odors if stagnant. Apocrine and eccrine sweat have different odors and different triggers for secretion--apocrine is relatively odorless and produced in response to temperature and exertion; eccrine is the more pungent one, secreted in response to emotional and physical stress and hormonally influenced. Before puberty, we don’t notice how our pits smell because the body hasn’t begun to crank out the estrogen & testosterone (yes, women do make some testosterone) that make eccrine sweat stinky. And those of us who’ve had the "doors slammed on the estrogen factory” via chemopause, tamoxifen or AIs have more unopposed testosterone circulating--especially if we take AIs, which inhibit the aromatase that converts testosterone and its precursor androstenedione to estradiol, and therefore our eccrine sweat smells ranker.

  • Tita415
    Tita415 Member Posts: 2

    Although this is not pleasant I am so glad I'm not the only one. Its been making me crazy as I am experiencing the same awful issue. If tried rubbing alcohol under my arms, and breast...or what's left of them. Had bilateral masectomy a year ago and I'm still going through the sleepless nights and the pain. As if it wasn't enough now the embarrassing odor! I mention to my plastic surgeon and he laughed " very funny!" I'm schedule to see the surgeon that got out the cancer they say I had. Hopefully she won't laugh and has a solution that doesn't include surgery or more drugs. My heart goes out to all women that like me go through this.

    Hopefull Liz

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,887

    Hi Liz-

    We're sorry you're experiencing this! And we're sorry your plastic surgeon didn't take your concerns seriously. Hopefully your surgeon will have some answers!

    The Mods

  • cake8icing
    cake8icing Member Posts: 23

    I found this topic during a search and while I am a late addition to the discussion.just wanted to say how glad I am to find you ladies discussing this! I had terrible BO staring in my teens through my thirties. By my 40’s it subsided and into my 50’s I had barely any. Then, after my UMX 3 weeks ago, my affected side (left side) has terrible BO. And, not my right side. So strange. I am hoping it resolves, either by the time I am fully healed and antiperspirant/deodorant could solve it(I’m not opposed to wearing it), or that it resolves on its own.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,936


    Just letting you know that someone appreciates your post. Sadly, you seem to be a voice crying in the wilderness.