What are the Most Common Symptoms of Underarm Cancer?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2019
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A lump under the arm is one of the most common signs of underarm cancer. Pain in this area may be a symptom as well. An individual with cancer may also develop swollen lymph nodes, discoloration in the area, or puckering of the skin in the underarm. It is important to note, however, that the presence of these symptoms does not always mean a person has cancer.

One of the most common symptoms of underarm cancer is a lump that develops under the arm. It may be large or small and can appear in any part of the armpit. Unfortunately, some lumps that form as a result of cancer are too small for a person to notice right away. As such, he or she may have cancer for some time before the lump grows large enough to notice.

Cancer can also cause pain in the armpit. Many people are under the misconception that cancer pain is always severe, and they may ignore minor pains and soreness that could be an early sign of a problem. Anyone who has underarm pain that lasts for longer than two weeks and which is not associated with a known infection or injury should talk to a medical professional. If pain under the underarm is severe, however, immediate medical attention is usually warranted.


Swollen lymph nodes under the arm may also develop as a sign of cancer. Lymph nodes are glands that filter pathogens, wastes, and even cancer cells from the body via the lymphatic system, which is a vital part of a person’s immune system. Fortunately, swollen lymph nodes in this area do not always indicate cancer; sometimes, they are simply a sign that the body is fighting an infection.

Changes in the appearance of the underarm area may also indicate underarm cancer. Discoloration of the armpit can be a sign, as can puckering or dimpling of the skin.

Many times, symptoms that seem to indicate cancer turn out to be the result of other conditions. For example, a person may have a non-cancerous cyst or an irritation that forms because of a razor nick. Since cancer is usually at its most treatable when it is discovered in its early stages, however, it's best for people who have lumps, pains, and other signs of cancer to be evaluated by a healthcare professional.


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