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Lymph nodes not in ultrasound

ellegaunt Member Posts: 6
edited March 30 in Not Diagnosed But Worried

Hi all,

Today I had a diagnostic mammogram that included an ultrasound that felt really lackluster until I pressured the technician to look harder, and which ended with an appointment for a biopsy and a referral to a breast specialist for other tests as well as recommendation for a breast MRI. The supervising doctor found something and is concerned.

My reason for posting is that I don’t know if I trust the radiologist, and I don’t know if my distrust is reasonable.

I now know I have a mass and I seem to also have a swollen lymph node. This story is all over the place because I’m all over the place. Please bear with me.

The ultrasound technician felt the lymph node after I pointed it out to her, and it is visible protruding from my skin at certain angles, but she said when she looked in the ultra sound “nothing was there.” She wasn’t going to ultrasound my breast at all even though I had told her repeatedly about the pain in my breast. That’s why my doctor referred me for an ultrasound: breast pain.

I had to really pressure her. That’s when the breast mass became visible (not the lymph node, the breast mass). The doctor came in and said my mass is concerning given my symptoms that I need a biopsy. She said she’s concerned my symptoms indicate more than the mass, and that the worst thing she could do for me is to say the mass is all there is. She referred me to a breast specialist, and was supportive that a doctor already offered to order a breast MRI. She said given what she saw a breast MRI wouldn’t be unreasonable.

The technician on the other hand told me I was fine before she even looked at my breast and then as she was getting set up she told me that since it hurts it probably isn’t breast cancer, in this tone of voice that sounded like she was so biased towards assuming I’m healthy that she was just going to give me a cursory look and then send me on her way. And again, the stuff she found she only found after I prodded her.

Now I’m wondering if she did a good job to look for the lymph node. It feels and looks like a slightly soft marble or like an extremely firm and large boba, and it’s where a lymph node would be. And again it’s visible through my skin at certain angles.

How do you distinguish when you’re doing good self advocation and when you’re being crazy? In retrospect I wish I pushed her harder to find the lymph node (I could feel that her device wasn’t quite on it), but I didn’t want to seem crazy so I didn’t.


  • needs.a.nap
    needs.a.nap Member Posts: 157

    Hello @ellegaunt. I don’t know. I was made to feel like I was crazy by my former primary care (not even a doctor, she was an NP) for trying to advocate for myself … that made me so angry to be dismissed like that (I had never experienced that in my life!) I was told my physical symptoms, primarily abnormal fatigue, plus stuff like frequent headaches, could all just be from “anxiety” … huh, less than two months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer!! No thanks to her! (Sorry, I still feel worked up about it) Let’s just say the minute I got diagnosed with breast cancer I switched to a new primary care doctor!! I wish I had done that sooner, because we need to have our medical concerns listened to, especially when we are having new and unexplained symptoms. I’ve observed other doctors who are amazingly kind and attentive to my friends when I accompany them to appointments, so I know some of them exist out there!

    I want to first say, I truly hope this has a benign outcome for you! I really want that for you! It’s not fun having to go through this process of waiting, testing, waiting … but it’s the only way to get definitive answers. I wish you the very best!!

    I cannot believe you had to persuade the ultrasound tech to check your breast!! Good grief! Wasn’t that the whole point of you being there? Still, it’s really uncomfortable feeling dismissed like it sounds like she was making you feel. I’m sorry that was your experience today! Just, wow. We shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to persuade anyone that we are experiencing a real symptom, and to please check it out. I’m glad you will move on to see a breast specialist because you need explanations. The breast specialist should be much more thorough, and may even do their own ultrasound. My breast surgeon does an ultrasound every time I see him. And the biopsy radiologist did a full breast ultrasound and checked in my armpit to see my lymph nodes before doing the biopsy. My surgeon checks my lymph nodes too each time.

    I asked for my biopsy to be done at a larger hospital about an hour away that had a breast care center and I’m so glad I did (instead of having the biopsy done at my small local hospital) because they reviewed the mammogram and ultrasound images and actually wanted to biopsy two areas instead of just the one, that second spot ended up being DCIS (pre-cancer) that also needed to be removed. That taught me how valuable a second opinion can be! I’m grateful the initial radiologist was correct about my one tumor but frustrated she said the second one was not suspicious. They sometimes get it wrong. You’re wise to keep insisting and pushing for answers. I hope you get them and can find a doctor who is in your corner, so to speak, so you don’t have to fight so hard to get the proper attention.

  • ellegaunt
    ellegaunt Member Posts: 6

    Thank you so much. Just… thank you so much. 🥲

    I will get second opinions and push as hard as it takes.

  • needs.a.nap
    needs.a.nap Member Posts: 157

    Good morning @ellegaunt. Be convinced. Be convinced their explanation of your symptoms is reasonable. Granted, pain can be mysterious and difficult to pinpoint a cause but at least you will rule out the dangerous stuff. It may be really hard to not keep pressing on your breast to relieve pain or see if you can still feel the lymph node, but please be careful … I don’t even know if a warm or cool compress is recommended. Be gentle, try not to poke and prod. A swollen lymph node can have many benign causes, but I know our minds tend to go in one direction.

    Be convinced … I’m trying to have that be my approach. To find a balance between calmly letting the medical world do their thing and accepting their evaluation of me and being assertive, advocating for myself. It’s all been a brand new experience for me!! I’m trying to not panic and have the negative experiences of others cause me to assume the worst of every doctor, every appointment. That being said, perhaps I shouldn’t have shared all that I did in my previous post!! My experiences won’t be yours. And actually, since the initial stuff with needing to get a new primary care doctor and getting a referral to the breast care center, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at every interaction since. The staff and doctors have all been professional and respectful, no one has made me feel dismissed. I’m trying to patiently and thoughtfully listen to the doctors and be convinced. I do a lot of my own research too. So far I have been convinced and have seen the proof of everything, I understand why they are recommending things. I’m ready to ask questions if I’m not sure, and ready to seek another opinion if I’m not convinced.

  • ellegaunt
    ellegaunt Member Posts: 6

    I really appreciated the info you shared. I didn’t think you were saying your experience will be mine.

    The thing is that I live alone and I work from home, so while I do have friends and family I don’t have the perspective refresh that comes from interacting with other people for hours a day. As a result I suffer a lot of analysis anxiety. Not paralysis: I take action! But just a lot of anxiety about whether I’m thinking about things the right way.

    Your message helped me because it showed me how you think about your situation, which helped normalize my own thoughts, which reduced my anxiety.

  • needs.a.nap
    needs.a.nap Member Posts: 157
    edited March 30

    Thanks @ellegaunt. I probably over share at times … I’m happy my words could help. I too benefited greatly from reading others perspectives on this forum! It became my late night companion when my mind started to worry and I’d come here and find a great assortment of information and humor and reassurance. I dare say you’re acting perfectly normal in this situation! I still am shaking my head at your experience yesterday! I bet finding that mass was quite humbling to the tech. Although I’d prefer you have no mass!!!

    I suppose we shouldn’t worry too much about being pushy with these things. It’s our life and body at risk if we don’t keep a careful eye on things!