Axillary lymphadenopathy is a common clinical presentation of variety of benign and malignant diseases. However, majority of patients with unilateral axillary lymph node enlargement have an underlying malignancy in which association with breast carcinoma being the commonest one. In most of these patients there will be a discernible primary tumor, either clinically or radiologically. However, in axillary lymphadenopathy with negative mammogram is not very common, and in this case other malignant causes should also be considered in addition to occult breast cancer and these can be metastases from other primary tumors for, e.g., lung, genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal, ovarian, thyroid carcinomas and malignant melanoma.
Axillary node is an uncommon site of metastases from Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of urinary bladder even from its muscle invasive form, and distant metastasis from low grade superficial tumors without muscle invasion or regional metastasis is a very rare occurrence. Here we present a case of axillary nodal metastases from non-muscle invasive (superficial) bladder cancer without history of local recurrence and regional metastases.
We present a case of female patient who complaint of hard swelling in right axilla and right breast enlargement. Patient had past history of non-muscle invasive transitional cell carcinoma of urinary bladder (pTa, grade II A) which had been treated accordingly. No recurrence of bladder growth had been observed on serial check cystoscopies. On clinical examination of breast and axilla, right breast appears enlarged and there were palpable hard fixed axillary lymph nodes. Ultrasound showed enlarged malignant looking lymph nodes. Occult breast carcinoma with metastatic axillary lymph nodes was our initial impression; however, subsequent biopsy of axillary lymph nodes showed Transitional cell carcinoma.
This patient’s case emphasizes the importance of having sound knowledge of natural behavior of primary tumor and common and uncommon sites of distant metastases. The causes of unilateral axillary lymphadenopathy include both benign and malignant disease.