Lymph nodes appeared quickly


Was referred after finding a breast lump, which seems to just appear. Feels 5cm at least. I thought when GP examined she did not feel any axillary lymph nodes. Nor did I on self examination. I’m a Doctor (Psych). A few days before the clinic apt I felt a large lymph node that seemed to appear overnight.

The surgeon could feel 2-3 nodes,  I can now feel a smaller second. Mammogram didn’t show the breast lump (think I have dense breasts) but did on USS.

on biopsy Invasive ductal In breast and node. ER + PR -, Await CT/MRI.

I was wondering if we just missed the lymph nodes or can they suddenly become swollen? Feels 1-2 cm now and quite mobile and smooth. Is this big and does it suggest at that size that it has spread wider already? Only research I’ve seen talks about numbers and not size.

Feeling guilty that as a Doc I missed the mass before it got so large!


  • Hi Libh

    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to the Online Community. I can see that you have joined our Breast Cancer Forum, I hope that you find the support from others helpful.

    The surgeon will have examined you thoroughly and remember that they are used to feeling all around this area so will often pick up things at a smaller size than we can feel. Your nodes may have been a bit swollen but not enough to be felt by you or your GP or it’s equally as possible that the swelling has happened since your initial examination.

    The only thing that accurately tells us what is going on with your lymph nodes is the pathology. Scans can show normal lymph nodes but then surgery and pathology can reveal isolated tumour cells, micro metastases or macrometastases.In some cases lymph nodes can appear enlarged and on further examination have no cancer cells in them. The size of your lymph nodes gives no indication as to what is happening or if the tumour cells have travelled to another area.

    Please don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day you did find the lump and went to your GP which was exactly the right thing to do. The important part now is collating all the information about your tumour and deciding on a treatment plan with you.   

    I hope this is helpful.

    Best wishes for your treatment,

    Fiona (Cancer Information Nurse Specialist)

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email.

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