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Back to Oncology Symptoms

Lymph Node Enlargement

Lymph nodes (lymph glands) play an important part in the body?s defense against infection. Swelling might occur even if the infection is trivial or not apparent. By far the most common cause of lymph node enlargement is infection. Generally speaking (there are exceptions), lymph node enlargement due to infections tend to be tender and mobile while those due to malignancy are generally nontender, hard and may become immobile.


Lymph node enlargement can be classified as either localized or generalized:

  1. Localized enlargement

    Lymph node enlargement is restricted to one lymph node area.

  2. Generalized enlargement

    Lymph node enlargement is found across multiple lymph node areas.

N.B. Small soft glands (less than 1cm in diameter) are commonly palpable in normal people especially children.

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