ZocdocAnswersDo I need to worry about this lymph node?

Question

Do I need to worry about this lymph node?

Hi, I am a 26yo woman with mild to moderate health anxiety. About 3 weeks ago i noticed a slightly enlarged lymph node in my neck, about the size of a dime, hard and doesnt move. Went to the doctor a week ago and she said she thinks it'll go away but if it's still there in 2 weeks to come back and "then we can begin to get concerned." This did NOT help my anxiety about it. It has not grown, but also hasnt gone away. Maybe it's a bit smaller but I cant tell. I also have a hard time leaving it alone (i keep "checking" it). I am having a great deal of anxiety about it and I am wondering if this is something I really need to be concerned about? I cant really feel it unless I press pretty hard on my neck, but it isnt on the other side. But it's hard and doesnt move around.

Answer

An enlarged lymph node is a very common issue affecting many people, and in most cases it is completely harmless. However, there are some more concerning conditions that cause swollen lymph nodes, so it is important for you to make a follow up appointment to see your doctor and have this node re-evaluated. The most common causes of an enlarged lymph node are infection, inflammation, or any kind of irritant. If you have been sick recently, lymph nodes can remain enlarged for an extended period of time following this. Especially if you have had any fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, or sinus pain, types of illnesses that cause these symptoms can often cause enlarged lymph nodes in the neck area. However, it is possible that you have had a viral infection that you did not even know about that could be causing this enlarged lymph node. If you have been using any new products that have irritated the area, this could also lead to lymph node swelling. The most concerning conditions that cause lymph node enlargement, of course, are malignancies (cancers). Whereas enlarged lymph nodes caused by infection are usually tender to the touch and freely moveable, ones associated with cancer are often immobile, non-tender, and can be "matted," or feel as though there are many ridges and inconsistencies in the surface of the node. However, if you do not have any other swollen lymph nodes, no weight loss, night sweats, extreme fatigue or malaise, I would not jump to the conclusion that you have a malignancy. It is much more likely that this is a benign process. Having said that, in the small chance that there is a more serious cause for your lymph node enlargement, it is important that you follow up with your doctor, so that he or she can examine the node and order any further tests that are indicated.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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