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Lump Under the Armpit

Lump Under the Armpit

The occurrence of a lump under the armpit region may be unsettling, when one of its possible causes could be cancer. However, the same might be a result of something as trivial as improper shaving. But in any case, a medical checkup can give you peace of mind.
Rajib Singha
Last Updated: May 19, 2018
Given the prevalence of diseases, such as cancer, the occurrence of something such as a lump in any part of your body does raise questions and concerns in your mind. However, doctors say that most lumps under the skin are harmless. Furthermore, a lump in the armpit is most likely a swollen lymph gland, and least likely to indicate any form of cancer. However, since cancer is a possibility, visit your doctor immediately if the lump does not resolve, or if you start having any other abnormal symptoms.
What Could a Lump Under the Armpit Mean?
If you notice a lump under your armpit, it could be due to any one of the following causes:
◈ Sebaceous Cyst
» Incidences of armpit lumps are mostly reported in adolescents, who have recently started shaving.

» Improper shaving may damage the hair follicles in the armpit region, giving rise to a sebaceous cyst.

» The cyst is usually painless, movable, and slow-growing.

» Sebaceous cysts, most of the time, can be ignored. However, they may require treatment if they become infected, swollen, tender, or large.
◈ Lipomas
» As intimidating as they may sound to the uninformed, lipomas are non-cancerous, harmless, soft tissue growths found below the skin.

» Apart from the armpit, they may be found in the neck, thigh, torso, and upper arms.

» You know that your armpit lump is a lipoma if you come across the following signs:
  • The lump is 1-3 cm in size.
  • You can easily move it.
  • It is soft and has a rubbery touch.
  • It is painless.
  • It grows slowly and maintains almost the same size over the years.
◈ Infections
» If your armpit lump has occurred suddenly and is painful, then it most likely indicates an infection. The odds of this increase, if the lump is red and warm to touch, you are feeling sick, and you experience symptoms, like fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache, and mouth sores.

» Common infections that may cause armpit lumps include:
  • HIV
  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox
  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • Infection of the arms, or breasts
◈ Cancer
» Although, it is uncommon for a lump in the underarm region to be malignant, the possibility cannot be ignored. This is especially true in case of women. With breast cancer as the most common form of cancer in women, symptoms, such as an armpit lump, etc., must be evaluated by a doctor. In case of women, a medical checkup for breast cancer, if nothing, can at least give them peace of mind.

» Other types of cancers, which a lump under the armpit may be indicative of, include leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

» Furthermore, consider doing a medical checkup in the following cases:
  • The lump is fixed and cannot be moved.
  • It is hard and irregular.
  • The lump continues to enlarge.
◈ Other Indicants
» The armpit lump could also be a skin tag (if it is small, hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk, and is not painful).

» It may indicate an allergic reaction.

» It could be a side effect of certain vaccinations.

» It could be an excess breast tissue (a tail of the breast tissue that has extended under the armpit).
» The underlying cause of the condition determines its treatment. Minor causes get resolved within a period of 2-3 days.

» If the cause is a bacterial infection, then treatment may consist of a course of antibiotics. An armpit lump caused by a viral infection will resolve on its own. If the same has an allergic reaction as the cause, then it can be managed by eliminating the allergen. However, for cases which may indicate cancer, the prognosis depends upon the type and stage of cancer.

» The fact that the occurrence of one or more lumps under the armpit usually has a mild reason behind it, cannot overshadow the possibility of it being caused by something as severe as cancer. That is why, an early medical visit is always advisable. If it is a harmless condition, then all you have to do is to wait for it to get resolved on its own. If it is otherwise, then you are already aware of the benefits of early treatment. Take care!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.