Oncology (General Cancer)/Armpit lump

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Question
I am a 34 year old, overweight woman.  Here is my issue.  I have a small painful lump in my right armpit.  It is right under the skin, and I have had it before and it has gone away.  I had it checked when it happened before and was told it was an ingrown hair with a possible inflammed hair folicle.  The problem is that I have had this one now for several months. It has not changed, sometimes it feels as it has decreased in size, and I had my husband look at it and he says there is a red dot where it looks like a hair should come out.  The reason I am wondering is because I do not recall it lasting this long last time.  After the appointments and everything it went away on it's own and I did notice that it appeared after I shaved in early August.  I have not shaved since for fear of making it worse.  Should I be worried?  I mean I have had a mammo about 2 years ago and was told I can wait until I am 40, but what does this sound like to you?  I should mention that it gets VERY tender if I bother with it and when I am about to start my period, it gets tender too.  Would it have grown if it were cancer?  Should I be concerned with cancer at my age?

Thank you.

Answer
It sounds to me like you have an inflamed hair follicle as well, and this is not typical of breast cancer.  Generally cancer nodules are deeper (involving lymph nodes and not skin) and they are usually painless.  Have you tried twice daily 20 minute applications of heat?  Sometimes that's enough to get them to resolve.  However, if there is an inclusion (like an ingrown hair) you may need to have it incised and drained.  Try the heat for a week or so and if that is unsuccessful, ask your doctor to look at it.  Again, it's unlikely that this is cancer.  Hope this helps.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.

Expertise

I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.

Experience

I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

Organizations
American Society of Clinical Oncology

Publications
New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

Education/Credentials
MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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