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What causes cervical lymph nodes and is it a serious condition?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1978
Answered : 6714 Questions
Hello Dr. XXXXXXX XXXXXXX a few weeks ago I noticed an enlarged lymph node in my neck which was worrying enough for me to get checked out by my GP. I was hoping that he would give me peace of mind but instead he wanted to do a blood test to rule out leukaemia. My blood test came back and the doctor said it was fine and that there was nothing to worry about. (Although my WBC does appear to be higher than the range - results attached). However, in the time waiting for my results I learned that enlarged lymph nodes can be a sign of Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin and that they wouldn't necessarily show up on a blood test in their early stages. I mentioned this to my doctor but he said that I was not showing any other symptoms (such as weight loss) and shouldn't worry. After persistence, he agreed to refer me to a haematologist but I may have to wait until after Christmas for the appointment depending on the waiting list. I would like your opinion on whether my lymph node is anything to be concerned about? It is in the right side (cervical) and my best guess is that it is about 1cm in length (and less than half of that in width). There is another palpable lymph node in my left side which is almost exactly symmetrical in position although it is much smaller (maybe 5mm or less). I first noticed them two weeks ago (although they may have been there for years and may not have noticed them as I have never checked). They are definitely not reducing in size although they don't seem to be getting any larger either. They are movable in the sense that if I push them, they will move under my finger (almost jumping to the other side of my finger). They are definitely not what I would describe as 'hard' or 'stony' - I'm not sure how to distinguish between 'rubbery' or 'soft' but they are either rubbery or soft depending on the definition. There is no tenderness and absolutely no pain. If someone else fells it I cannot tell. I have no other palpable lymph nodes in my groin or armpits. I have had no noticeable infections or viruses although I occasionally get acne specifically around the neck area and always have done since I was young. I would really like to know the likelihood of the lumps being anything serious? Thank you.
Posted Fri, 27 Dec 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 6 hours later
Brief answer...given below Detailed answer.... Hello, Thanks for the query. I have read your query in detail and seen your blood reports and feel that there is nothing which is serious,although you must be investigated so that you get a real picture and develop peace of mind. Normally enlarged cervical lymph nodes are generally due to some local infection like cold,tonsilitis,laryngitis,ear infections and local cellulitis.Sometimes these enlarged cervical lymph nodes may be due to chronic infections like tuberculosis. Very rarely these enlarged lymph nodes may be due to lymphomas and leukemias but they are associated with symptoms like night sweats,fatigue,loss of weight,easy bruising etc. Blood picture also reveals very high WBC and low platelets and hemoglobin. Since you don't have any of the above mentioned symptoms and your blood report being normal,the chances of any serious cause is as good as nil. In general lymph nodes less than 1cm in size are not considered as serious. However,to now the cause and to have peace of mind you must get yourself investigated by getting a mantoux test,chest X-ray,CT scan and an excsional  biopsy of the lymph node  Biopsy of the lymph node would clear the picture once for all. In my opinion,everything shall come normal. I hope to have answered your query,however you may revert to me for any further query. Best of luck Thanks
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What causes cervical lymph nodes and is it a serious condition? 16 minutes later
Thank you Doctor. I will follow your advice and insist on further investigation. Just a few follow up questions; Could acne have caused the lymph node to enlarge and is it possible that the lymph node could could stay the enlarged size indefinitely and pose no risk? I don't have any symptoms other than that I do bruise very easily but always have done (for at least 6 years or more) - I presume that this is nothing to worry about with regards to the current situation? Finally, you mention that "Blood picture also reveals very high WBC and low platelets and hemoglobin" - is this anything to be concerned about as a separate matter? I notice that they appear to be above the 'safe range'? Many Thanks, XXXX
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 10 minutes later
Hello, Acne can cause enlargement of lymph nodes but such type of lymph nodes regress with time,however it is possible,in some cases,that lymph nodes may remain enlarged for a very long time. Your blood picture is absolutely normal and slight variations in the report are always considered as normal and should be ignored. Thanks
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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