This condition occurs in patients that undergo breast cancer surgery with axillary lymph node dissection. Tight strands that develop in axilla and down arm occur in 6% to 86% cases following breast cancer surgery. Confusingly, superficial nodules can be sometimes felt in axilla but they are not cancerous. I had a recent case that was concerned.
1. Breast Cancer (Dove Med Press). 2018 Dec 20;11:13-19.
Axillary web syndrome following breast cancer surgery: symptoms, complications,
and management strategies.
Koehler LA et al
“On occasion, subcutaneous nodules may appear to be connected to AWS cords. Two studies have addressed the concern that the nodules represent metastatic disease.16,17
Biopsies of the nodules demonstrated enlarged lymph vessels16 and lymph vessels surrounded by fatty tissue.17 It was speculated that the nodules are due to engorgement of the obstructed lymphatic vessels. At this time, no postoperative AWS cord-related nodules have histologically demonstrated metastatic disease.”
16. Reedijk M, Boerner S, Ghazarian D, McCready D. A case of axillary
web syndrome with subcutaneous nodules following axillary surgery.
17. Josenhans E. Physiotherapeutic treatment for axillary cord formation
following breast cancer surgery. Pt Zeitschriftfür Physiother.
Comment – So a small superficial lump is likely to be related to axillary web syndrome