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New lump under ear

Scared to death. Again. Never ends. I reached up to rub a place under my ear on my cancer side because it hur a little, and there’s a palpable lump there. I happened to be on the way to the dermatologist at the time. He checked it and said it’s moveable, but referred me to my onco. Don’t know what I’m looking for, but just needed some sort of encouragement.

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Comments

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,934
    edited December 2020

    If it's movable, it might be a lipoma. I had one on my upper neck - just under the chin halfway between my ear and middle of the neck. They're just a wad of solid fat that keeps growing but doesn't turn into anything. I stupidly let mine get to 7 cm and I looked like half a howler monkey or a bullfrog. But definitely get it checked out because even if it's just a lipoma, you'll want to get rid of it.

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Alice was yours tender? I don’t know how much is just my over awareness at this point but my neck actually hurts even sitting here. And the lump is pretty tender to touch. The lump itself couldn’t have been there for long because as big as it is, i think I would have noticed it. I’m really worried. MO will see me tomorrow afternoon.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited December 2020

    Could it be a reactive lymph node? In that case, the fact that it's moveable and tender is good. Neck lymph nodes often swell, in reaction to ear infections, throat infections, sinus infections, etc.. While of course after a breast cancer diagnosis, it's possible that it could be breast cancer mets, neck nodes are not a usual location for breast cancer mets - that would more commonly be the lymph nodes in the chest or around the collarbone. At least that what my doctors have told me - and I am currently dealing with swollen neck lymph nodes, probably (hopefully) caused by an infection. There are more serious possibilities, but breast cancer mets is lower down on the list.

    Good luck tomorrow and let us know how it goes.

  • 2019whatayear
    2019whatayear Member Posts: 463
    edited December 2020

    it really never ends- I hope you get confirmation very soon that it is nothing

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    I don't know, Beesie. I'm hoping it's reactive. I do have some sinus drainage/pressure but it's pretty slight, so I'm having a hard time convincing myself that could cause a lump like this. I know or think anyway my supraclavicular and chest nodes are ok, because I just went through a whole CT drama on that while they decided what to include in rads. I just finished rads right before Thanksgiving. They radiated the supraclavicular nodes on that side, but nurse says it would not cause issues that high up. But there was a questionable supraclavicular. They just decided in the end it was uninvolved, but radiated it anyway (no boosts).

  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,188
    edited December 2020

    It could be a big cystic acne or an ingrown hair. Most common around the scalp/ear area. They take time to heal, can be drained if they are painful and can hurt.

    Let us know and best to you.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,934
    edited December 2020

    Things can feel uncomfortable or cause pain if they're near a nerve, it doesn't mean the lump itself is what's painful. I have a current neck lump that appeared a few months ago. My MO ordered an ultrasound when I saw her for a regular appointment. Although the lump feels (and appears) nearly an inch in size, and can be uncomfortable, the ultrasound showed just a tiny benign nodule below the muscle that's apparently irritating the surrounding tissue and making things bulge out. Our bodies can sure be weird sometimes!

  • Poppy_90
    Poppy_90 Member Posts: 84
    edited December 2020

    I just wanted to add that I’m sending you good thoughts. Please keep us updated.

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Alice, Beesie, 2019whatayear, Wallycat, Poppy...thanks for all the encouragement. I see the MO this afternoon. I've no idea what's going on. Last night, three red lumps came up on the right side as well. I assume they are nodes. All on the neck. Those are not tender but are red. I know they weren't there yesterday because I specifically asked the derm if he felt any others, and he said no. And he checked them thoroughly, on both sides, comparing them, and did a whole body skin check as well. He's a great doctor. He would have seen them. In addition, I'm itching like crazy, from the chest up, including my head, and I woke up so tired I had to drag myself out of bed. Lymphoma Came to mind, but I don't think they'd appear all the sudden would they?

    Edited to Add: ive been itching a lot lately, but I wrote it off to skin issues from rads, and everywhere else, hair starting to come in.

  • anothernycgirl
    anothernycgirl Member Posts: 821
    edited December 2020

    Kmom, - I had a lump under my ear, too. The more I touched it, the more it hurt. I went to ENT who sent me for sono. Seems it was a gland that was slightly enlarged, and they are keeping an eye on it. I went back for sono every 6 months for a while. It got slightly smaller. So far so good (knocking wood!).

    Sounds like you are having an allergic reaction to something. Are you able to take Benedryl or other antihistamine?

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited December 2020

    I agree with NYCGirl. It sound like an allergic reaction, or maybe you are fighting an infection - I know that nodes can swell up very quickly with an infection. Certainly lymphoma comes to mind (I know!), but I don't think that nodes would grow that quickly with a cancer, where just a few cells enter the nodes, vs. an infection that kicks the nodes into reactive mode. The problem is that once nodes enlarge from an infection, they can take a long time to reduce back to normal size, as NYCGirl mentioned and as I am discovering for myself now.

    Let us know how it goes with the MO.

  • lillyishere
    lillyishere Member Posts: 769
    edited December 2020

    KMom57, let us know after your doctor's visit. You have ILC like me and I'm told it is very lazy cancer. I doubt it creates enlarged nodes in such a short time. Are you taking any supplement or medication that you may be allergic to?

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Only the letrozole. I took it for six months last year with no issues, and since thanksgiving this year. I have no idea what this could be. Now I have multiple red lumps on both sides of my neck that look like nodes, or they are in the location of nodes anyway. Looks like every single node is enlarged and red. Only on my neck and under my ear. The recently radiated skin on my chest and under my arm looks fine. And the derm said yesterday it was dry but looked otherwise good, and so was my incision, so it’s not that. No infection or anything from that. I’ve never had anything like this. Can’t get in touch with RO to ask if it could be somehow related to rads. I do have one angry itchyplace near my shoulder. But how that could make the nodes on both sides swell I don’t know.

  • lillyishere
    lillyishere Member Posts: 769
    edited December 2020

    KMom, can it be this one:

    Key points about lymphadenitis

    Lymphadenitis is an infection in one or more lymph nodes.

    When lymph nodes become infected, it's usually because an infection started somewhere else in your body.

    Lymphadenitis can cause lymph nodes to become enlarged, red, or tender.

    Treatment may include antibiotics, and medications to control pain and fever.

    Early treatment of infections can prevent the development of lymphadenitis.

    Website from Johns Hopkins Medicine Home: Lymphadenitis

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Thank you Lillyishere

    So the RO said it's not connected to rads as it's too far outside the field that was radiated.

    MO said the lumps on the right side and elsewhere on the left are not nodes. They look like hives, which he gently suggested could have popped up due to my extreme anxiety over the lump. He said take Benedryl tonight for those.

    The lump under my left ear is not a hive, but he felt relativelysure it was a benign process. He was not certain that it was a node — said it could also be a lipoma or something like that, but if it were a node, it was likely reactive not malignant. He said, as Beesie did, that that is an unusual location for breast cancer to go. He said it's not uncommon to see swelling there as it's a kind of trash dump for the lymph system, like the nodes in the groin. That said, he said he would order a CT if I need it, to make sure. I told him I'm concerned about the amount of radiation I've had from all my scans, and he said it was up to me. We could wait it out until after Christmas, or check it out tomorrow with imaging. I asked point blank “are you worried." He said no. I said “and you'd tell me if you were." He said Absolutely.

    On the lymphoma, he said unequivocally no. It would not come up that fast. The end result was i made appointment for neckCT but haven't decided if I'll do it. I don't know. I can't scan every single time something scares me. But I am scared and I'd like for my daughter to have a Christmas where this is not weighing on me so. She doesn't know anything about this, but she feels when I'm scared or not fully there. And last Christmas was right after I was diagnosed. I don't know what to do.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,934
    edited December 2020

    I think you've gotten every reassurance from your doctor that it's not anything to worry about. Is there some reason you don't trust his experience?

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Not really. He’s a good doctor and a fine person. I guess maybe because I told doctors for a very long time something was wrong with my left breast, and my left arm and they kept telling me it was my imagination/anxiety. They would Pat my arm and tell me my yearly breast MRI was clear until I finally found the lump myself. Then we went back and saw it on the old MRI, clear as day. Maybe I just can’t get past that? I don’t know. Maybe I’m afraid it will happen again.

  • lillyishere
    lillyishere Member Posts: 769
    edited December 2020

    KMom57, I think it is good news. I wonder if a less invasive test would work just the same.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited December 2020

    Since I've just been going through the same process, I'm wondering why your MO didn't suggest a neck ultrasound. I spoke with several doctors and that's what every one suggested to me. It probably won't tell you as much as a CT scan but there is no radiation, it can be done quickly and it would show if the nodes appear benign although enlarged, indicating what is most likely normal reactive nodes, or whether the nodes exhibit any abnormality.


  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    I don’t know Beesie. That’s a good question. I’ll ask.

  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,188
    edited December 2020

    Did anyone mention a thyroid rash...sometimes Hashimotos can trigger a rash on the neck, though I tend to be in agreement with your doc...allergic/stress reaction from the red welts and the behind-ear thing is probably a lipoma or cyst.

    Not knowing is very stressful but having too many scans is also stressful. I wish you the best in making a decision and feeling ok with it.

  • Poppy_90
    Poppy_90 Member Posts: 84
    edited December 2020

    KMom, I know you said the worry would effect your daughter. I would trust the MO, since you know and respect his opinion. But if you feel that getting the scan will help put your mind at ease, do it. Mental health is important too. And i know you’re worried about giving your daughter a good Christmas. If this will ease your stress, get the tests done...just try Beesie’s advice for the ultrasound instead.

    Wishing you peace. Keep us updated

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    I am sitting here understanding why you don't get scans unless you really really need to, and never on a Friday. The waiting after is worse than the not knowing before especially as clinic closing time approaches. Normally, I get the results within just a couple hours. My brain starts going to dark places when there’s silence from the doctor.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,934
    edited December 2020

    I second the ultrasound suggestion; it's what I had earlier this month on my mystery neck lump. Results show BENIGN node.

  • Poppy_90
    Poppy_90 Member Posts: 84
    edited December 2020

    I know it’s hard, but try not to project until you know. Easier said than done, I know. But, sometimes, not getting a quick call back is the best news, because nothing has caused your reports to be flagged and rushed. We are all here for you. Keep us updated

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited December 2020

    Gee, AliceBastable, it looks like neck lumps are popular these days. My ultrasound report indicated "benign-appearing" rather than "benign". But I'll take that - it's sure better than "suspicious for cancer"!

    KMom, I know how difficult it is to wait for results. Keep reminding yourself that your MO ordered this test to reassure you that this is something benign, not because he thought the test was necessary.

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Glad to hear about both your results Alice and Beesie. Great news.

    I am worried. MO texted at 4 saying he’d text later with results. No word. Normally, he texts a simple quick text like “CT fine. Call you soon.” This time, nothing. If he had it when he texted, and it was ok, he’d have said so quickly and talked to me about it later.

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    MO texted that there are a few reactive nodes from rads, but otherwise everything looks fine. I asked what the lump under my ear is, and didn't get a definitive answer. Just said it all appears benign. I know doctors and radiologists rarely say definitively nothing is there, but it would be nice wouldn't it. My MO is wonderfully compassionate though, and I got as close as I could, I guess. I asked if I should really not be worried, and he replied, I know it's scary but yes, everything really is fine.

    I wish I knew how to get to a place where I can get past this pervasive fear. I know as well as anyone that being always hypervigilant doesn't stop bad things from happening. It didn't stop this from happening in the first place, and watching for every pain, lump isn't going to keep this cancer at bay if it's going to return. I've done everything I can. I know that. I also know intellectually that all worrying that much will do is rob me and my child of the joy of a healthy now. I do know that. But how to get to a place where I can live with this, I don't know.

  • kmom57
    kmom57 Member Posts: 153
    edited December 2020

    Also, thank you all so much for the support and for talking me through this one. I do appreciate you all.

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
    edited December 2020

    KMom, I'm so glad to hear that your MO got back to you and that the news is good. As I am learning, sometimes neck lymph nodes swell and doctors simply can't figure out why. In your case, as in mine, the best they can do is say that everything appears benign. It's not the definitive answer we want, but as I said in my comment to AliceBastable, it sure is better than the alternative. I've seen too many posts on this site about situations where it wasn't clear that the nodes look benign, and that leads to more imaging and biopsies and weeks if not months of uncertainty - which in most cases end up with a benign result, because lymph nodes in the neck are, as your MO so eloquently put it, the trash dumb for the lymphatic system. So you and I both got the best answer we could, even if it's not the perfect answer. And that's pretty good!

    At this point there is nothing you (and I) can do but wait for the reactive node (or nodes, in my case, since I have several of them) to resolve on it's own. You are off the hook for any more imaging or tests. So enjoy your daughter and enjoy Christmas!