Medical Specialty >> Oncology

Doctors Lounge - Oncology Answers

Back to Oncology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lymphoma

Question: Malignant Lymph Node Characteristics

 bashfulbutterfly - Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:43 am

I did not receive a reply regarding this on the Head and Neck Cancer forum, so I am crossposting it here in hopes of receiving a reply regarding either Lymphoma, or Head and Neck Cancer.

I have read up about swollen Lymph nodes, and have noticed that most of the replies on the Lymphoma area, and this area are all the same posts. They all say the exact same thing, and some of the "symptoms" contradict themselves. A malignant Lymph node should be hard, fixed, irregularly shaped, non-tender, and firm, while it is also said that some of these things can constitute a Lymph node fighting infection so it is difficult to differentiate which is which. I know it is impossible for a complete diagnosis online, however it is possible for someone to retain information to speak to their doctor about, specific questions to ask, etc. The purpose of this post is to ask a few questions regarding a swollen Lymph node in the neck. A swollen node fighting infection would constitute rubbery, firm, and mobile correct? I have heard of different sizes, even some up to 2 inches big that can be normal. I would appreciate if the same information is not said to me yet again, as I would like to retain new information.

I am over 50 years old (would prefer not to state the exact age), and I have a swollen Lymph node in my neck. It is not extremely large, and is only visible when tilting my head completely to the right. I have an autistic son who is prone to colds and respiratory illnesses which passes along to the rest of my family, so we all encounter approximately 4 colds per year, while some may have only one a year. As of now, I do have a cold that is beginning to subside which was caught from my grandson. I do not have any night sweats, no difficulty swallowing, no feeling of fullness in the throat, or anything of the sort. The Lymph node in my neck is approximately 1. 3 cm in height, and 1. 9 cm in width. It is not painful unless pressed on, does not restrict the movement in my neck, and has not been bothersome other than its presence being there. It is not hard as a rock, it is not fixed to the skin or any underlying tissue, but is mobile when moved from side to side, up and down. It is not overly soft, but it is not hard either. It is firm, but not overly firm. Definitely not rock hard, and freely moves underneath the skin and is not stuck down to anything. What I am asking here is, are malignant Lymph nodes hard or soft? Are they mobile or fixed in place? Are they irregularly shaped as stated before? General size of a malignant Lymph node? Any information would be of great help.

I would also like to note that the lump is oval in shape, has not gotten any larger or any smaller. I did measure it upon first seeing it a couple of weeks ago and it proved to be one inch in width. It now measures 3/4 inch, however I could have measured it wrong in the beginning, although I do believe I did. I have been taking Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling, and I am not sure if it has done anything, but I am watching it consistently. I would also like to note that currently I do have bursitis of the elbow. It was fairly large to begin with, however it has been going down, and is now very loose and baggy. I am not sure if this could have any effect on a Lymph node and making it swell. There are no other swollen nodes if the lump I am seeing it indeed a node which it looks and feels as though it is and is in the correct spot constituting a Lymph node. I was recently at the doctor because of difficulty breathing, with cold symptoms. I had a chest x-ray and was diagnosed with pneumonia, and they also stated that I was "on the road" to Emphysema. The pneumonia has not cleared up with a round of antibiotics and an inhaler, and I have not encountered any problems since. My daughter also had a cold that escalated to pneumonia, with a nasty cough. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 Jccbrandt - Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:51 pm

I am a 32 Female and have a tumor in my lymph node that the doctor has been trying to diagnose for about a month now. Mine too, is on the left side, and visible only when I move my head to the far right. US, Cat scan, MRI, and even needle biopsy have all proven inconclusive. I am sceduled for an operation on Valentines Day to remove it and biopsy. BUT, what I have learned from this experience is this...
Malignant tumors in lymph nodes are typically firm, fixed, and painless. They do not corrospond with other illnesses, and do not shrink in size. (Unfortunitally, my tumor has all those things)
If your node is moving freely under the skin, that is a good sign. But please get it checked. Certainly better safe than sorry. Please let me know how it turns out. ---Jenn
 bashfulbutterfly - Sat Jan 27, 2007 6:29 pm

Thank you for your reply. I have been doing quite a bit of research on what can cause lymphadenopathy, and many state all the same things which makes it difficult to retain any kind of information regarding what it could be. It has not grown in size at all, is not rock hard, nor fixed to the skin or any underlying tissue, it's painless unless pressed on firmly, no other swollen nodes, etc. It's somewhat firm, but is also slightly squishy. It's not overly soft, yet not overly hard. It's in between. Also, based on specific studies in the United States, it stated that 3 of 238 lymph nodes were malignant, while 0 of 80 were. It also stated that in people over the age of 30 have a 4% chance of it being malignant, as opposed to a 0.4 percent chance if you are under the age of 30. Of course, if this does not regress after close watching, I will have it checked out, and see what a doctor has to say. The consistency of it and the fact that it's mobile gives me some sort of reassurance, but there is nothing like a hands on doctors visit to clear your mind. I also had one other question. What exactly constitutes a stony-hard node? Does that mean as hard as a rock? I appreciate your input. I also wish you the best of luck with the removal and biopsy.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us