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Thread: Swollen Lymph Nodes in Neck. Cancer?

  1. #1

    Swollen Lymph Nodes in Neck. Cancer?

    Hi I'm a 21 year old male and I have a few swollen lymph nodes on both sides of my neck. I first discovered a swollen gland last July/August on the left side of my neck. I went to see a doctor who asked a bunch of questions and then preceeded to get blood work done on me, and wanted to run a cat scan as well. I wasn't able to get the cat scan that day, but they did do the blood work. Everything came back normal on that.

    I went to see another doctor who said she believed it was allergy related to the new building I was working in. I didn't think anything more about it afterwards. Finally last month I went in for my physical and she decided she wanted to run a cat scan on it now just because it still was there, and she wanted to run some blood work as well but mostly for chlosterol levels, although I'm a skinny guy (125 lbs). The results came back on the blood as all my levels were normal.

    Now my first question is, If i had leukeima or lymphoma would it show up in the blood even if they weren't looking for it? Now the cat scan results came back as my swollen gland was over 2 cm in size, and that I had other swollen lymph nodes in my neck. They scheduled me for a general surgeon for the next day. I went to see him, and he said he couldn't perform a biopsy on me, because the gland had gotten smaller, and wasn't big enough to perform on it, and that he couldn't even feel the other glands in my neck. He told me to come back in a month to look again. The original swollen gland has gotten larger and smaller over the months and is currently at its smallest state.

    In the past week I've started to notice the other lymph nodes in my neck. They're swollen, I wouldn't say hard, they aren't painful, and when I put my finger on one and push down it feels movable and goes side to side. The original swollen gland from 6 to 7 months ago on the left side of my neck has gotten pretty small but is still there.

    I believe its a good sign that the gland can shrink because I don't believe cancer can shrink on its own. However, I'm worried about those other glands in my neck that I can feel now, although they don't feel that big. I would say there are two one each side of my neck.

    If it was cancer would I be showing signs by now this does go back more than 6 months, and i eat fine, sleep well, and in general haven't been sick.

    I'm just really concerned, and don't want to have cancer.

    Worried Young Adult

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User brainman's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
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    Hi NewGuy4. I am very sorry about your health concerns. Normally, lymph notes are enlarged due to an infection and the doctors first option is a course of antibiotics. Did I miss that in your story? The good news is that if the nodes are coming and going it is highly unlikely that it is a lymphoma. Keep working with your medical team and let us know what they find.
    Long-term cancer survivor
    1992 Astrocytoma grade 2, left motor strip
    2005 Recurrence this time said to be an Oligodendroglioma grade 3, same location.
    My Story Part 1: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=2528
    My Story Part 2: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?p=7350
    My Story Part 3: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=8029

  3. #3

    Well the first gland I ever had, has never completely gone away but it has shrunk quite a bit, and you can push in on it and seems to crush in a little bit. Yes, the very first doctor I went to tried to put me on a Z-Pak and nothing happened. Thats when I went in for my 2nd opinion and got the first round of blood work done. I've been on top of this from day one of finding this. Even though the anti-biotic didn't kick it out. The gland finally did go down some later on, and then grew again and then shrunk down and etc. I'm noticing the right side of my throat is pretty red and kind of sore when I swallow, and maybe thats why I have the new swelling on the other side of my neck currently.

    I just rather be safe than sorry, and I haven't felt sick at all, but even though the one gland will shrink alot, to almost a very small bump at times. The fact that it won't completely go away makes me worried.

    My primary doctor has said the entire time she thought it was due to my allergies of a new building I'm working in because this gland and new job basically tie into the same time-table. She figures once I get out of that building which should be in 2 months, that it'll go down completely. I just hope she's right, and it's encouraging that you don't think it's lymphoma.

    All my friends and family don't seem to be too concerned, they think that if the doctor isn't too overly concerned about it neither should I. Especially since the surgeon couldn't even perform a biopsy on it.

  4. #4
    I would also like to add, when I push down on the edge of the glands, it feels like the gland or node moves to the opposite direction. So if I put my finger on the left side of the gland and push down it moves a little to the right. They're all painless, and I'd say pretty soft, they aren't hard as a rock but I don't know what else could be classified as hard. I'm still pretty worried though.

  5. #5
    I've got all these views, and only one reply. I'd love to hear from people and what they think.

  6. #6
    Regular User
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    Nov 2007
    The likely hood of having a lymphoma is very rare, Although lymph nodes which are greater than 1cm in certain areas are considered pathologically "abnormal" this certainly doesn't always mean malignancy.

    The rule of the thumb is lymph nodes which continue to grow in size, are hard with a texture like a stone, painless, matted together or fixed to underlying tissue usually point towards malignancy.

    The fact that you say you're lymph nodes are waxing and waning in size makes the possibility of having a lymphoma even slimmer.

    No blood tests are not a method of diagnosing lymphoma. Lymphoma is not a cancer of the blood, It is a cancer of the lymphocytes and the cancer huddles within the lymphatic glands rather than in the blood stream. Like all cancers as it progresses; and depending on locations, certain organs may be disrupted and show signs in blood work that something isn't "right".

    e.g. Low white blood cells because of decreased immune function, thrombocytopenia due to a low platelet count, anemia due to low red blood cells, etc.

    It would be advisable to investigate this further to be on the safe side even more so if you begin to develop any symptoms such as Weight loss, Fevers & Chills, Drenching nightsweats. If you're surgent will not remove them, You will be able to request a FNA (Fine needle aspiration), This is a method where a needle is placed into the sucpicious lymph node and some of the "lymph fluid" is extracted and sent to be examined by a pathologist.

    The test will either come back as clearly benign and reactive, clearly malignant, Or inconclusive. The last two possibilities will require a complete removal of one of the nodes in order to fully diagnose. On a further note a qualified radiologist can usually predict with good accuracy whether or not a lymph node appears to be reactive or non-reactive by looking at the scans.

    Finally, there are hundereds of possible reasons why a lymph node, or a multitude of lymph nodes become swollen, The highest percentage of the time turns out to be infection. You're doctors seem to be heading in the right direction by ordering scans and bloodwork. Dont be afraid to ask for certain tests, At the end of the day the only advocate for you're health is yourself.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    So I went back to the General Surgeon today. He said the same thing as last time. "They're awfully small", but to me they feel big. Maybe I'm just paranoid, I'm glad he doesn't feel concerned about it. The guy has to be old enough to be my grandfather, and probably has about 30 years of experience. I just don't want them to be missing something. Yeah I don't have any symptoms really. I'm hoping this means everything is ok.

  8. #8
    So I went back to my pcp. She said she still believes it's due to allergies and sinuses. At the moment I have a small sneeze, a runny nose, some sinus headaches, and a red throat. She said if it was lymphoma the one gland would of never went down.

    She believes the two new lymph nodes are just fighting off the same allergies as the first one did. They just didn't swell up until the first one went down.

    I'd really like to hear some feed back here on what people have to say, if they've heard of this before.

  9. #9
    hey. ask the doctor for a ultrasound of the nodes and take it from there.
    If they think it is a worry they"ll get you back for a fna.

  10. #10
    So its been more than 2 months since I last left a comment.

    My neck lymph nodes, definitely grow and shrink never get massive, but never go away either.

    Whats scaring me is the last couple of days I've found a lump now in the middle of my right armpit.

    I'm really getting freaked. I dont show any other signs. I've actually put on 9 lbs the last 3 months, but all of these swellings are scaring me.

    I have a red throat that wont clear up, two mouth bumps behind my upper wisdom teeth, that are under the gums themselves. A semi stuffed nose 24/7 for months. The neck nodes that are movable to the sides easily, and now the armpit lump as well.

    Advice please!


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