CLL and Breast Lymph nodes

Hi fellow CLL'ers, I really appreciate this site and all of your posts, such a great resource. Recently I had an abnormal mamogram, first time in 17 years, did the follow up mam and 2 ultra sounds today. The radiologist noted (and I saw them myself) the inflamed, enlarged lymph nodes on my left side. So about a year ago I did have a biopsy of a node under my right arm pit. It proved I had CLL, no big revelation!. So my concern is this: Is the CLL advancing to the point now that the nodes in the left arm pit/breast area can now be seen? My Dr. said in July CLL was stable for the most part. I will speak to my Dr. in a few days, he's out of the office this week. So wanted to hear what you think. Enlarged nodes just a part of the CLL? I have read that breast cancer from or related to CLL is rare......Just worried cancer might be in these enlarged nodes? Any feedback is appreciated Thank you!!


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19 Replies

  • Enlarged nodes are a common symptom of CLL and having nodes larger than 10cm (4 inches) is one of the triggers for starting treatment. It is quite common for women with CLL to have lumps in their breasts investigated after a mammogram and they nearly always find that they are 'benign' lymph nodes. However given that we have about twice the risk of secondary cancers, including breast cancer, any suspicious lumps should always be investigated.


  • Thanks Neil, I'll have a look at those links. My fear of course is dr's assuming it is CLL.....and it being something else. I'm all about being thorough.

  • Hi Lorna

    If it's any help, I am having similar problem to you at the moment, except that my biopsy 7 years ago was on the left and my lumpy area is on the right! After a couple of months of low level worrying (is it breast cancer or CLL related?) I saw my GP earlier this week. She couldn't find an obvious lump that would suggest breast cancer, but is referring me to the breast clinic for a second opinion. I had this same scenario a couple of years ago and ultrasound showed nothing untoward. I have noticed my usual left side neck lumps have been bigger and I have more aching than normal in that area, but I have been very busy over the summer and think this may be the result of trying to do too much. Hopefully it will all settle down now I am trying to rest a bit more.

    Let's hope that for both of us it is just 'niggly nodes'. Wishing you all the best.

  • Thank you HC, it just helps hearing other's stories! Since I am W & w, which is perfectly fine with me, things come up and I begin to I try not to do much of that. I did see the nodes while the ultra sound was going on and they seem large BUT I know that is part of the CLL. I guess in the end we just have to be vigilant. I like the second opinion too........ Best of luck!

  • Happy Cat, I also wish you good results. I have the same I am very tierd & weak also. I also have my good colestersal low and wonder what I should do there. Hot flashes are there but not as what they are saying wet. Thanks & good luck. (Missouri.)

  • It is most likely CLL. Prior to treatment, every mammogram showed the enlarged lymph nodes which were all related to CLL. The tech showed me what it looked like and I have to say it was very evident something was not normal. I already had been diagnosed so I knew it was the CLL but seeing it so evident was a reality check that I really did have CLLSLl. The nodes all returned to normal after I had FCR treatment. Now 2 years post treatment the lymph nodes again showed up and triggered a panic attack with my primary doctor. After ultrasounds it was determined once again to not be anything other than CLL/SLL. It's always best to be safe and rule out breast cancer but based on my experience, it's very likely CLL. I had enlarged lymph nodes everywhere on CAT scans also and so I was not too alarmed by the mammogram. Good luck!


  • Thank you Jomary, nothing like a good breast cancer scare - :( We always hear how we should be proactive so I guess that is the best thing to do. I guess they can tell by the shape ect of the nodes on the breast that they are enlarged due to CLL and not some kind of invasive cancer? I will ask my Dr who is very good and answers all my questions. I just like to know what's going on and have a lot of them for the most part. Thank you again for your input.


  • Hi I had a similar experience with an abnormal mammogram went for another and the doctor did a ultrasound on that area and near my armpits. So she asked have you ever had lymphoma. And I said I was recently diagnosed with CLL. Scare over. Barbara

  • Sure there is CLL cancer in those lymph nodes but it is CLL cancer not breast cancer - BC lumps are solid tumors - you doctor can tell.

    Yep that is how my CLL was first diagnosed. By the time I needed treatment it was about 6 "

  • Yes that is part of my concern, I have a mam every year and this is the first time the nodes have showed up. I was able to see the picture and the nodes are very prominent. Just wonder how big is the time to say lets start treating the CLL. Thanks:)

  • It depends on how long the nodes take to grow to a size when they will trigger treatment (10cm/4inches in the largest dimension, or causing pressure on a nerve or organ). They can shrink too...

  • All of my lymph nodes are getting bigger now - especially the ones under my arms, neck, and breast. I had a mammogram and told the tech that I had felt a couple of lumps and she went to get the radiologist who insisted I have an ultrasound. When I told them that I had CLL they seem to calm down but I was still followed up with a repeat mammogram in 6 months along with another ultrasound. It was not breast cancer.

  • Good news! I think CLL is enough, my two cents.

  • I am 1 year in WW. I notice when I eat too many sugars and carbs my breast is achy. My mammo was good so it must be lymph nodes.

  • Yes my OBGYN said caffine makes the outer breast tissue soar, or can. I only have one cup a day of coffee or tea......and I'm not giving THAT up:)

  • Yes it is just part of your CLL. Nothing to worry about.

  • Swollen lymph nodes with CLL is typical, many of them you can't see or feel. Those that can be seen are usually in the neck, by collarbone, arm pits. The ones under arm pits usually show up in a mammogram. Such nodes usually become of concern if there is rapid, increased growth. That's why these areas are always checked at doctor appointments. Otherwise, the swollen nodes are just a symptom of CLL.

  • Dear Iorna, The first place I felt the lymphnote was beside my right breast. My uncology Dr. found some under my arms both side. I feel sometimes or when I am laying down the ace. Do my bloodwork is still ok and he is not concerned at this time?? I had also a ultrasound & they said everything was ok? So I guess I should not worry, but I do. The word Cancer will worry one. Good luck I go back at Xmas for Bloodwork. 6 Months .

  • Goodluck Winingearm! The only time I get a bit nervous is if I have a bloodwork appt with my Dr coming up, otherwise I just try to forget about it. There is nothing I can do but take good care of myself and go easy on myself as well when it comes to a lack of stamina - CLL or I'm just getting old-er! Both perhaps. My Dr. is a pretty level headed, well-read guy so I'm hoping he says as many have said here in the forum, it's just the CLL showing itself..... Best of luck!

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