armpit lump early detection for breast cancer

Breast Cancer: The Role Armpits Play in Earlier Detection

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

My best friend was showering and noticed a lump in her armpit. Thank goodness she noticed this change in her body because she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Thankfully, she’s doing great now and that she knew her body well and acted fast on the lump. This story is a constant reminder to me, and hopefully you, of how important it is to be aware of your body.

No matter how old or (young) you are, it’s never too early to understand what to look for with breast cancer. There is an increasingly high chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer as the statistics point out that 1 in 8 women in America receive a diagnosis.

Although there are a lot of factors contributing to the risk of breast cancer like personal or family history, there are a few things you can change in your lifestyle as a precaution against it. I’ll give you that insight later but for now let’s talk about the role that armpits and armpit lumps play in breast cancer.

Early Detection is Key to Survival Rate

lymph nodes are indicators for armpit lumps

Image source: University Hospitals.

Everyone talks about checking your breasts once a month for any changes, but our armpits are often overlooked. Our armpits have a very close connection to our breasts as our lymph nodes lay closely to both of them. Lymph nodes are great indicators to know if there are any changes in the body. The swelling that occurs in your armpits can be an early detection of breast cancer and that’s why it’s so important to be well acquainted with your armpit lumps and bumps.

Early detection for breast cancer in a localized stage has a 5-year relative survival rate of 99%, from the American Cancer Society. Catching it early means doing monthly breast self-exams and checking for differences in regular armpit lumps, as well as scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

lumps under armpit

Lymph Nodes

I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about lymph nodes, but if you’re scratching your head wondering, what exactly are lymph nodes and how are they connected to breast cancer? Then let me explain.

The lymphatic system is a network of organs and vessels all over your body. Maybe you’ve heard people say they are getting their lymphatic system drained, or you’ve participated in the latest trend of dry brushing. Recently, there has been an emphasis to drain the lymphatic system. This is because they collect all the waste and toxins from your body, and to rid of them is said to improve one’s health.

Lymph nodes are a group of different types of immune system cells that are responsible for detecting chemical changes within the body. When your axillary lymph, the ones closest to your breasts, are inflamed or you developed lumps under your armpit, this generally means there is an infection present and your body is notifying you.

charcoal deodorant to avoid armpit lumps

Mammograms and Deodorants

When I go for my mammograms, I noticed they always tell me to wash off any deodorants I’m wearing and advise me not to wear any perfumes, lotions, or powders. I was curious to find out why they were advising against it and found an interesting statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA points out that many of the products mentioned above contain aluminum. On the images taken from mammograms the residue of these products can read as tiny specks that look like small calcium deposits. Often these calcium deposits are a sign of cancer thus making the reults of the mammograms incorrect.

For a correct reading in our mammograms, the products we use under our arms are important. Staying clear of aluminum-based products near the timing of your test, may be the catalyst for a more accurate result.

charcoal deodorant to avoid armpit lumps
antiperspirants can cause armpit lumps

Aluminum

Now this debate has been going on for years. Let me preface this by saying the decision you make after reading all the information out there and forming your own opinion, is the right one for you.

Aluminum is one of the ingredients in antiperspirants, a product that we usually apply every day for most of our lives. This means that if you’re putting a product on for every day of your life, then it’s important to know what exactly is in it.

The reason why aluminum is a controversial ingredient is because aluminum has a genotoxic profile that can cause DNA alterations and epigenetic effects (gene activity that is not caused by changes in the DNA sequence). This is why it has been said that the genetic mutation caused by aluminum MIGHT BE a contributing factor in breast cancer. Please note doctors will argue that there is not conclusive science to support this and I am a believer in science but what I will say is that if it suspicious (and it is) my advice (especially on a product you use 7 days a week for years on end) is to avoid it out of precaution.

There are no studies concretely proving that aluminum is the cause of breast cancer, however there are many studies that reveal there is a possible correlation. And if you remember from your 10th grade science class, correlation does not equal causation.

However, because there are a lot of different studies for both sides, it’s better to be safe than sorry and opt for a more natural option when they are so readily available. Here is a link to one that I’ve developed made from charcoal that’s a great alternative to antiperspirants.

armpit lumps are early sign indicators of breast cancer

Armpit Lumps

It’s best to familiarize yourself with all the different neighbourhoods around your breasts by performing self-exams and going for your regular check-ups. You have many armpit lumps and bumps in but that’s why it’s incredibly important to understand your own body, allowing you  to identify when something feels off. It’s best to catch an armpit lump before it amounts to something, just like my dear friend.

armpit lumps are early sign indicators of breast cancer

Lifestyle Changes

A lot of breast cancer diagnoses can’t be avoided but there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to decrease your chances of getting a diagnosis.


Physical Activity: get up and get moving, move your body for at least half an hour a day, even if it’s just a brisk walk.

Alcohol Consumption: decrease the amount of alcohol consumption may aid in maintaining healthy internal organs as you age.

Switching to Aluminum Free Deodorant: being intentional with the products you use on the delicate parts of your body, will ensure that you’re not progressing the probability of receiving a diagnosis of any health issue.

Improving Diet: eating healthy along with exercising, will improve your immune system and ensure you’re strong and healthy as you age, and your body starts weakening.

Getting older means the weight of our lives starts becoming more evident. The truth is, we aren’t as young as we used to be, and we need to adjust our lifestyles to incorporate healthy practices. This will ensure we are better positioned to fight illnesses if we ever need to, and prevent them from being diagnosed in the first place.

Each week on my blog The Little Book of Human Discomforts I share clever solutions for seemingly embarrassing skin, body, and hair issues. Consider subscribing below to be the first to know when new content is live! I also share lots of body and skincare tips on Instagram @kaianaturals and on my TikTok page @madamesweat.

The information provided in this blog is taken from the PubmedBreastCancer.orgMedical News Today (1), Cancer.orgMayo ClinicMedical News Today (2)ColumbiaPenn Medicine.

All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. 

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