Dear serafina: A swollen and painful breast is not necessarily cancer. Particularly since all tests to date are negative. You might ask your doctor whether there is a possibility that your breast is infected. Otherwise, breast examination, mammography and ultrasound may be the only tests in the absence of any additional worsening symptoms.
Pain such as you describe is more likely due to something other than cancer; in particular, you are at an age when some women start getting "fibrocystic changes" in the breast, where fluid builds up in the ducts and glands and causes discomfort. Pain radiating to the underarm from the breast is pretty common. Some things that help the pain of fibrocystic breasts is eliminating caffeine, taking vitamin E, wearing good support, even at night. It's typical for a mammogram to be not useful at your age. It sounds like the best choice at this point will be to keep an eye on things: have another physical exam in a couple of months, and be in the habit of examining yourself monthly, right after your period ends. If one area remains of concern, a biopsy could be done: but if pain is the only issue, and there is no lump, it's pretty unlikely to find anything.
Thank you for the feedback. My worry was the underarm specifically because my mother's older sister was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40 (and childless) that started above her breast in the area between the breast and her underarm.
Is the condition that you describe - with the pain resonating into the arm - usually limited to one breast/ one side? Also: I am planning on getting pregnant in the coming 6 months, and with the pain I have now, I am afraid once my breasts get larger that I will be in excrutiating pain. Is there a chance that the symptoms would lessen with pregnancy?
Sorry to be so worried.
symptoms of fibrocystic changes can indeed be felt in one breast more than the other. As to pregnancy, it's hard to predict: it might get worse, could also get better. One thing about pregnancy is that it makes it much harder to evaluate breasts, so be sure you and your doctor have a plan for keeping an eye on things.
I can sympathize with what you are going thru. I am a 40-year old that had some abnormalities in a mammogram. I also have been having pain in my left breast for 7 months and it has not gotten any better. I have had two sterotactic biopsies and a needle localizaiton biopsy and thank god everything has come back negative for cancer, all tests confirm it is just fibrocystic. TI don't have any lumps, just a lot of fibrous tissue that us very hard and leathery according to my surgeon. He has suggested hormone therapy, but I'm not so sure about doing that. I am going to try Vitamin E, I've heard alot about that helping. Good luck, but what you have sounds very similar to mine, so it is nothing to worry about.
About 2 years ago, I had a mammogram and ultrasound, and I was told that I had 9 cysts in my left breast, and that one was as big as the rest put together. After seeing a surgeon, he said it didn't seem to be anything to be concerned about, just keep an eye on it.
Last year, I was having a sharp pain that seemed to radiate from the far outer side of my left breast, and go to my armpit, sometimes down th arm. There is also an area that is numb, about the size of a golfball, at the junction of the armpit and the fleshy area at the top corner of the breast. My doctor couldn't find an explanation, and suggested I see a neurologist, who told me that I had a bulging disc in my neck, and that was probably causing the pain and numbness.
I'm 47 years old, and starting to experience some changes - the occasional night sweat, and my menstrual cycle skips a beat every 5 months or so. I went 70 days this last time, and the cyst (or whatever it is) feels like it has grown to about the size of a hard-boiled egg.
I have an appointment in a week to see another surgeon, and after reading your comments feel much more enlightened (and less frightened).