The breasts contain a number of specialized cell types that work together to allow lactation. The glandular tissue of the breast is made up of lobules and ducts, which produce milk and carry that milk to the nipple. Surrounding the glandular tissue are blood vessels, fat cells, connective tissue, and a series of lymph nodes that extend into the armpit. Lumps in the breast tissue or under the arm can indicate the presence of a number of disorders.
Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
Ductal carcinoma in situ develops within the ducts of the breast--the tissue that carries milk from the breast lobules to the nipple. Patients with ductal carcinoma in situ commonly develop a defined breast lump corresponding to the site of cancer development. The lump is usually visible on a mammogram and may be palpable in a physical breast examination. Although DCIS is not an typically invasive form of breast cancer, some patients diagnosed with DCIS also develop cancer growth in the lymph nodes, according to a study published in "The American Surgeon" in 2001. Patients with DCIS who develop swollen under-arm lymph nodes should seek medical attention.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ develops within the ducts of the breast--the tissue that carries milk from the breast lobules to the nipple.
- Patients with ductal carcinoma in situ commonly develop a defined breast lump corresponding to the site of cancer development.
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
What Is the Meaning of Fibrofatty Tissue in the Breast?
A defined lump in the breast combined with swollen lymph nodes may indicate invasive ductal carcinoma, a more aggressive form of ductal cancer 2. According to BreastCancer.org, invasive ductal carcinoma accounts for around 80 percent of breast cancer diagnoses 2. Patients with the disease develop a defined lump in the breast and also develop underarm lymph node swelling once the cancer reaches the lymph nodes. Invasive ductal carcinoma is diagnosed following a tissue biopsy to confirm cancer and may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment 2. Doctors can effectively treat many cases of invasive ductal carcinoma, especially if cancer growth is detected early, so patients with breast and underarm lumps should seek medical attention to assess the health of their breasts 2.
In some cases, lumps in the breast and swollen lymph nodes under the arm could develop as a result of infections. Swollen lymph nodes alone can indicate a number of disorders, and patients with infectious diseases such as colds or coughs often can often feel swollen lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, in the groin and under the arm. An infection in the breast tissue, called mastitis, also leads to swollen lymph nodes as the body works to fight off the infection 3. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, indicates that women with a breast infection may also develop a lump in the breast as fluid collects around the site of infection 3. Patients with a breast infection may also suffer from general feverish symptoms, as well as pain and itching of the affected breast 3. Breast infections can be treated with antibiotic medication and require immediate medical attention to prevent the formation of a breast abscess.
- In some cases, lumps in the breast and swollen lymph nodes under the arm could develop as a result of infections.
- Swollen lymph nodes alone can indicate a number of disorders, and patients with infectious diseases such as colds or coughs often can often feel swollen lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, in the groin and under the arm.
What Is the Meaning of Fibrofatty Tissue in the Breast?
What Are the Causes of Thickness in Breast Tissue?
What Are the Treatments for Precancer in the Breast?
What Is the Difference Between a Regular Mammogram & a Bilateral Mammogram?
What Are the Treatments for Intraductal Papilloma of Breast?
What Causes Breast Calcification?
Characteristics of Breast Cancer Lumps
Breast Cancer & Nipple Symptoms
Antibiotics for a Breast Infection
Causes of Armpit Pain and Swollen Breast
- The American Surgeon: Importance of lymphatic mapping in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): why map DCIS?
- BreastCancer.org: IDC - Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
- MedlinePlus: Breast Infection
- American Cancer Society. Invasive Breast Cancer (IDC/ILC). Updated September 20, 2019.
- Sharma GN, Dave R, Sanadya J, et al. Various Types and Management of Breast Cancer: An Overview. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010;1(2):109-126.
- American Cancer Society. What Is Breast Cancer in Men? Updated April 27, 2018.
- Zhang BN, Cao XC, Chen JY, et al. Guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer (2011 edition). Gland Surg. 2012;1(1):39-61. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2227-684X.2012.04.07
- American Cancer Society. Lifestyle-related Breast Cancer Risk Factors. Updated September 10, 2019.
- American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cannot Change. Updated September 10, 2019.
- Patil KS, Ragupathi S, Bhaskar SP, Ambujam G. Mammography Screening in Benign Breast Disease for Risk Stratification of Malignancy. Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Research. 2017;5(12):31890-31897. doi:10.18535/jmscr/v5i12.100
- American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Early Detection and Diagnosis.
- American Cancer Society. Treating Breast Cancer.
- American Cancer Society. Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer. Updated September 18, 2019.
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.