Do Swollen Lymph nodes (Glands) Mean Cancer?

Doctor Examining neck for swollen lymph nodes (Glands)


When you got to know about swollen Lymph nodes (Glands) the first thought shouldn’t be “do I have cancer”.

But the reality is something else they are more likely to be caused by infections or due to some disease that affects the immune system.

However, they will clear up as the body gets healed up.

And in few cases, cancer cells travel through your blood and end up in your lymph nodes or might start from there.

the best way to check is to consult your doctor to figure out what is causing the changes in your body

What are swollen lymph nodes (Glands)?

  • Lymph nodes also referred to as lymph glands, are a significant part of the immune system.
  • They are located throughout the body but are visible and ready to be felt (palpable) only when they are enlarged or swollen.
  • Few studies say Lymphs nodes are regional, and every group of them corresponds to a specific area of the human body and reflects abnormalities in that region.

Common areas where swollen lymph nodes are more prominent and much more readily noticeable are:

  • Behind the ear
  • In the throat (Neck)
  • The groin (Lap)
  • Under the chin
  • In the armpits (underarm)
  • Doctors, Physicians, and other healthcare professionals check these regions for enlarged or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Broad variety infections are the most common causes of swelling of the lymph nodes, for example, strep throat, ear diseases, and mononucleosis.

More serious medical problems such as HIV infection, lymphomas (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) or other cancers, or lupus may cause swollen lymph glands.

  • Rarely, a medicine can cause the problem.
  • Symptoms associated with lymph node swelling and related ailments may include pain in the region of the swelling, fever, and tiredness.
  • Not all of the swollen lymph glands are abnormal.

What are swollen Lymph nodes (Glands)? What lymph nodes really do?

  • Lymphs nodes are still an important part of the body’s immune system and help fight infections.
  • Lymph nodes (lymph glands) are small, soft, round, or oval structures located throughout the human body and connected to each other like a chain.
  • Lymph is a watery fluid that circulates inside the lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are found near these vessels.
  • Inside the capsule, lymph nodes contain specific sorts of immune cells. These cells are mainly lymphocytes, which produce proteins that capture and fight microbes and other viruses, and macrophages, which destroy and remove the collected material.

Where are the swollen lymph nodes located in the body?

Lymphatic System Body

Lymph nodes are located throughout the entire body. Some are directly under the skin while some are deep within the body.

Lymph nodes normally coalesce in different regions of the body in which they are responsible for filtering the blood and performing their immunologic work for that specific area of their human body.

Fluid from the lymphatic vessels eventually feeds into the venous system (veins) from the body.

Swollen lymph nodes are painful?

Generally, swollen lymph nodes brought on by inflammation, infections, or cancers may be painful or tender.

Some benign causes of swollen lymph nodes may not be painful.

Common locations:

Lymph nodes in various parts of the human body might become swollen for various factors. People can often see swollen lymph nodes

  • On the neck,
  • behind the ear,
  • at the base of the skull (occipital area),
  • Below the jaw,
  • Over or above the collar bone,
  • Under the arms,
  • Around the groin (pelvic girdle).

Swollen lymph nodes around the side of the throat or under jaw:

Swollen lymph nodes around the face of the neck or under the jaw would be the most common.

They may represent an infection around that area, such as a tooth infection or abscess, throat infection, viral disease, or upper respiratory disease.

The majority of the causes of swollen lymph gland within this area are benign (noncancerous) but sometimes swelling of those lymph nodes might also suggest cancer in the head and neck region.

Lymph nodes behind the ear and in the occipital area (base of the skull):

Swollen lymph nodes behind the ear or in the base of the skull may correspond to an illness around the entire scalp or possibly an eye (conjunctival) infection.

The usual cause of swollen scalp lymph nodes would be skin conditions affecting the scalp, for example, dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis); or an abscess, or soft tissue infection.

Swollen lymph nodes in the underarm (axilla, armpit):

Swollen lymph gland in the underarm is anatomically important in breast cancer.

They also play an essential part in staging (determining the extent) and predicting the outcome of breast cancer during the elimination of the cancer tissue in the breast.

Many cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia may lead to enlargement of those lymph nodes.

These lymph nodes may also become reactive and enlarge due to injury or an infection of the arm on the same side.

Enlarged swollen lymph nodes above the collarbone:

These generally suggest cancer or an infection in the region.

Examples include lung disease, lung cancer, lymphoma in the chest cavity, or breast cancer.

Some cancers which are more distant can seed these lymph nodes, such as genital cancers or colon cancer.

Some inflammatory causes of the swollen lymph gland above the collarbone (clavicle) can include tuberculosis or sarcoidosis.

Swollen lymph nodes in the groin: Swollen lymph nodes in the gut may be normal in young individuals but they might also result from several sexually transmitted diseases, local infections, infections of a lower extremity (like the foot and toes), or genital cancers.

How can you check for swollen lymph nodes?

Usually, lymph nodes are not visible. As soon as they enlarge, they can become visible in specific areas of the human body. Especially behind the ear, or in your neck or groin.

You might notice them as enlarged “Bumps” Enlarged lymph glands may also often be felt by gradually moving your hands around the swollen area.

It’s possible to ascertain whether they’re not or tender.

What viruses and infections cause swollen lymph nodes?

There are many causes for swollen lymph nodes, occasionally known as “swollen glands” (lymphadenopathy or lymphadenitis).

In general, lymph nodes become swollen when they are active because of a fungal, viral, or fungal infection, inflammation, or cancer.


Viral infections are the most common causes of swollen lymph nodes. The most common cause is viral upper respiratory infections like the common cold.


  • Infectious mononucleosis (mono)
  • Chickenpox
  • Measles
  • HIV
  • Herpes
  • Adenovirus

What fungal, parasites, and bacteria cause swollen lymph nodes?

There are many different causes of swollen lymph glands or nodes, for example:


  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Histoplasmosis


  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Leishmaniasis


  • Streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Other sexually transmitted diseases

Inflammatory diseases, cancers, and other conditions that cause lymph nodes


Inflammatory and immunologic causes of swollen lymph glands contain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus in addition to sensitivity to some medicines.

Cancer These cancers may originate from the lymph nodes or bloodstream cells like lymphomas and some kinds of leukemia.

They might also be cancers that spread from another organ in the body (metastatic cancers).

For example, breast cancer can spread to the closest lymph gland from the underarm (axilla), or bladder cancer may spread to the lymph nodes around the collarbone.

Other causes of swollen lymph nodes (Glands):

There are many other less common causes of swelling of nodes, such as genetic lipid storage disorders, transplant graft rejections, sarcoidosis, and several other conditions.

There are lots of other less common causes of swelling of nodes, for example, genetic lipid storage disorders, transplant graft rejections, sarcoidosis, and various other conditions.

Lymph node swelling is not necessarily a sign of an underlying disorder. Sometimes swollen lymph gland can be normal.

As an instance, small (less than 1 centimeter), horizontally lymph gland under the jaw (submandibular lymph nodes) in healthy children and young adults or small (up to 2 centimeters), groin lymph nodes (inguinal lymph nodes) in young individuals may be ordinary.

Signs and symptoms :

Sign and symptoms of swollen lymph nodes

A person could be entirely free of symptoms (asymptomatic) and swollen lymph nodes are may only be found when a physician notes them through a general physical examination.

Sometimes, swollen lymph nodes may be extremely tender, painful, and disfiguring.

Symptoms and signs of more severe health conditions that may cause swollen lymph nodes may comprise:


Weight reduction

Loss of appetite

Swelling of multiple lymph nodes or only an isolated one

Localized red patches of the skin over the lymph gland

Hard lumps or people felt beneath the skin in the Region of the swollen lymph node

Sore throat or runny nose

When should I visit the doctor?

If you notice swollen lymph nodes, visit your primary care doctor for an evaluation and possible treatment.

Depending on the reason for the swelling of the lymph nodes, you might require treatment by a hematologist/oncologist (if the swollen lymph gland can’t be clarified or are because of underlying cancer) or an infectious disease specialist (in case they are because of a complex infection).

People who have been suitably treated for an infection but have persistently swollen lymph nodes should see their physician.

How is the reason for swollen lymph nodes (Glands) diagnosed?

These swollen lymph nodes could be seen and felt simple.

In other instances, a deeper lymph gland could be seen on imaging studies, such as CT scans (computed tomography), of various parts of the body.

Tonsils at the back of the throat are also lymph glands, and they’re the most visible ones in the body.

Diagnosing the reason for swollen lymph nodes might be challenging.

The most important component of evaluating a swollen lymph gland is a comprehensive medical history and a complete physical examination by a health care provider.

The doctor may ask about symptoms such as sore throat, fever, and chills, fatigue, weight loss, a complete list of drugs, sexual activity, vaccination history, current journeys, and the patient’s own and his/her family’s previous history of cancers if any.

A set of lymph nodes in a special area of the body reacts to disturbances in that general area.

When there is a specific disease in the area of the swollen lymph nodes, which may be the most probable cause of the swelling.

For example:

Infections of their leg or some sexually transmitted diseases may cause swelling of the lymph nodes in the stomach region.

Physicians usually examine the lymph gland by feeling them and characterize them based upon what the lymph nodes feel as though.

Big or small

Fixed or mobile

Hard or soft

Firm or rubbery

These characteristics could be useful in suggesting the reason for lymph node swelling.

On the flip side, a soft, tender, spunky lymph gland may more likely represent a disease.

If the enlarged lymph nodes are supposed to be related to cancer, then a biopsy of the lymph node may determine that the cancer type.

By way of instance, a swollen lymph node round the collar bone (supraclavicular lymph node), may signify lung cancer in someone who may have other clinical signs indicative of lung cancer.

Treatments and Remedies for Lymph nodes (Glands):

There is no specific cure for swollen lymph nodes. The underlying cause has to be treated, which might lead to the settlement of the swollen lymph node.

If an enlarged lymph node causes localized discomfort, home remedies include a warm, wet compress to help with pain relief.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to help reduce swelling and pain.

Prescription corticosteroid drugs like Prednisone, Medrol, or Decadron may also be used for swelling.

Treatment for cancer may include chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

Drugs to treat autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus may be prescribed.

How much time does this take to resolve?

The time that it takes to get a swollen lymph gland to go away fluctuates widely and depends upon the underlying cause.

If a disease causes swollen lymph nodes, they may work out in a few weeks.

But, it’s typical for the lymph gland to remain enlarged for a time even after an infection has been treated.

If swollen lymph nodes are a consequence of an autoimmune disease, they can shrink in size through periods of remission and then enlarge again whenever the illness flares up.

If swollen lymph nodes are due to cancers, it is based on the type and stage of cancer and whether it has metastasized (spread) to other areas of the human body as well as the lymph gland may stay enlarged for the duration of the treatment.

What are the complications of swollen Lymph nodes (Glands)?

There may be complications related to the enlarged nodes.

The skin underlying the enlarged lymph gland may become infected.

In other circumstances, the lymph gland might become very large and compress other neighboring structures within the body.

This might be a serious and debilitating issue that may require immediate medical or surgical attention.

An enlarged lymph node inside the abdomen can compress the intestines and cause an obstruction of the intestines.

Ask your friends and loved ones for support.

If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain…

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Prime Health

Prime Health

To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.