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What causes swollen lymph node in neck?

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Posted on Wed, 18 May 2016
Question: my son has a swollen lymph node in his neck. He went to the Doctors initially before Xmas and went back about 3 weeks ago as it was still there, it is no bigger. He had blood test and all came back fine. He is in good health. I am worried that the Doctor has miised something and it could be a lymphoma or some other cancer, am I worrying unecesarily?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (42 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
There are probably no signs suspicious for lymphoma in your son

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thanks for writing in to us.

I have read through your query in detail.
Please find my observations below.

1. I have been a cancer radiologist for years and have seen hundreds of patients having neck lymph node enlargement. Lymph node enlargement in the neck is common in children and adults. Lymph nodes enlarge in reaction to any infection, inflammation and rarely due to cancer.

2. In most patients, lymph node enlargement is commonest due to infections in children. Lymphoma or cancer associated lymph node enlargement usually follows a particular pattern of involvement.

3. In lymphoma, the patient has multiple lymph node enlargements which is painless and associated with generalized weakness, fever and weight loss. Lymphoma can also cause enlargement of liver and spleen. The lymph nodes progressively increase in size and more than one region is involved in lymphoma or cancer.

I hope your son is doing well since the time the lymph nodes were discovered. If the lymph node enlargement is progressively increasing in size then a FNAC test might be required with additional examinations like a chest x ray, neck and abdomen ultrasound scan and complete blood count.

If the above warning signs of lymphoma are not to be seen in your son then you can relax and should not worry.

Hope your query is answered.
Please do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Vivek Chail (20 minutes later)
thank you, I found your reply very helpful. He is at University at present and is not suffering any fatigue or weight loss. I was just concerned about the length of time the selling had been there. He was told he had 2 small ones in his groin but they were of no concern to the Doctor as he said some people can have them for a long period. After the blood test the Doc did not ask him to come back for another visit. Should we just be aware and keep a watch on them?
Thanks
doctor
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (43 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Being aware of any increase in size over 3 to 6 months will surely help

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thanks for writing back with an update.

1. Though chances are likely that it is from an infection, lymph nodes at two places coming up at the same time require to be observed.

2. It is always recommended to keep a watch on the size of lymph nodes. Probably you can tell your son to take pictures and compare it later after 3 to 6 months.

3. You need not get worried about it but being aware would certainly help.

Hope your query is answered.
Please do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Vivek Chail (1 hour later)
Thank you I will tell him. Is there more chance of it being cancer if there is more than one lymph node up? can an infection cause them to be swollen for a few months? and would he not be presenting with other symptoms by now. The Doc did observe the nodes when he went for the bloods, would he have done more tests if he had been concerned, sorry to be paranoid but thought he would have other problems if it was cancer?
doctor
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail (22 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Chronic infections can cause lymph node enlargement for months

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thanks for writing back with an update.

1. Lymph node enlargement in more than one region can be seen in conditions other than cancer. These are usually chronic infections. If your son is keeping healthy then cancer is unlikely.

2. In the cancer research center where I worked, we did a needle test called FNAC or a biopsy from when lymph node when there was a suspicion of cancer. His doctor would have recommended this type of test if cancer was suspected.

3. Even mild infections can cause lymph node enlargement for months. It is good if he is aware of it and palpates every 15 days to know if there is any pain or enlargement. He can also examine the arm pits and see if there is any lymph node. Please tell your son to be alert for any swelling occurring else where.

Hope your query is answered.
Please do write back if you have any doubts.

Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Dr. Vivek Chail

Radiologist

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 6786 Questions

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What causes swollen lymph node in neck?

Brief Answer: There are probably no signs suspicious for lymphoma in your son Detailed Answer: Hi, Thanks for writing in to us. I have read through your query in detail. Please find my observations below. 1. I have been a cancer radiologist for years and have seen hundreds of patients having neck lymph node enlargement. Lymph node enlargement in the neck is common in children and adults. Lymph nodes enlarge in reaction to any infection, inflammation and rarely due to cancer. 2. In most patients, lymph node enlargement is commonest due to infections in children. Lymphoma or cancer associated lymph node enlargement usually follows a particular pattern of involvement. 3. In lymphoma, the patient has multiple lymph node enlargements which is painless and associated with generalized weakness, fever and weight loss. Lymphoma can also cause enlargement of liver and spleen. The lymph nodes progressively increase in size and more than one region is involved in lymphoma or cancer. I hope your son is doing well since the time the lymph nodes were discovered. If the lymph node enlargement is progressively increasing in size then a FNAC test might be required with additional examinations like a chest x ray, neck and abdomen ultrasound scan and complete blood count. If the above warning signs of lymphoma are not to be seen in your son then you can relax and should not worry. Hope your query is answered. Please do write back if you have any doubts. Regards,