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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lymphoma

Question: multiple persistent swollen neck lymph nodes

 es08 - Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:55 am

Hi there,

I am a 21 year old female and in november last year I had strep throat and have had persistent swollen lymph nodes under my jaw ever since about 1.3cm. In february I noticed another one that has been described by several doctors as being between 1.3 and 1.5 cm on the right side of my neck. I had a couple of doctors say they thought it was nothing to worry about and was sent to a specialist anyway who told me he thought it was nothing to worry about and was probably due to glandular fever which my bloods showed antibodies for but also I had never known I had had, but that it could also be an indolent lymphoma which he was reluctant to do a biopsy to diagnose as he said they don't develop for at least 20 years and knowing now wouldnt change anything. I was so worried about that comment I went to another doctor who sent me to have an FNA on the node in the side of my neck which came back normal. I also have a small 0.5-0.7 node in my groin which has been there constantly since feb. All of my nodes have not gotten any bigger but also have not gotten any smaller, I would really like to know if the specialist was right and if all of these things are clues to having indolent lymphoma, I have been so worried and would really like to know so I can get on with things. I have no other symptoms and general health asides from lymph nodes is all good. Thank you.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:28 pm

User avatar Hello -

While the enlarged nodes could, possibly, indicate an early, indolent lymphoma, I cannot imagine a doctor dismissing early detection and treatment of any cancer. That being said, since you tested positive for glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis), this made the comment about a lymphoma almost gratuitous and guaranteed to cause any patient undue concern. If there is a ready explanation for the swollen glands (and there certainly is) then I can't see any reason to needlessly alarm you with speculation about something that's already been adequately explained. The parotid glands, in particular, can remain enlarged for a considerable time after having had mono, and one can have mono and never know it had been there. While we always hear the stories of people feeling horrible for weeks with it, that's because they felt horrible for weeks. One rarely hears anything about the innocuous cases, because the go unnoticed until something like this happens (enlarged glands draw attention and the problem is diagnosed).

Because of this, and not the random suggestion of a future malignancy, I would suggest the biopsy is unjustified now. There's a perfectly good explanation for the enlargement, and it will likely take some time to go away. Be glad you weren't aware of the mononucleosis, as it can be an ordeal sometimes.

And odd experience for you, and no doubt unsettling, but I think you can take comfort in the fact that you now know you've had mononucleosis and didn't get terribly ill with it. The rest you might write off to "thinking out loud" on the part of the specialist.

I hope this helps. Best of luck to you. Follow up with us as needed.
 es08 - Wed Oct 29, 2008 10:18 pm


thank you very much for the prompt reply, it has helped a lot. I just have 3 furthur questions. I did not actually test positive for having Glandular/ EBV (I did have several tests for it between nov07 and feb 08 while trying to diagnose my strep throat, which came back negative), but showed antibodies for it which the specialist explained to me only indicated that I had had it in the past but could not say when at all which is partly the reason why I was so worried as it could have been years ago which then wouldn't explain the nodes now would it? Also they have been there for almost a year now, is it common or even possible that lymph nodes this size could just stay there this size permanently and not be anything to worry about? And if it was, as the specialist suggested, an indolent lymphoma would the nodes have gotten bigger by now or not necessarily?
 es08 - Thu Oct 30, 2008 3:29 pm

Hi there,

thank you so much for you prompt reply, it has been very helpful. I just have 3 furthur questions. I did not actually ever test positive for Glandular/EBV ( I was tested for it several times between nov-07 and feb-08 whilst trying to diagnose my strep throat, and all came back negative) however I showed antibodies for EBV which the specialist explained to me indicates I have had it at some stage but it could have been years ago which is why I am so worried and will not easily acccept it as the sole reason for my nodes, as I could have had it years ago and it would therefore not explain the enlargement today would it? Also they have been there for coming up to a year now, is it common or even possible for nodes this size to just remain there this size forever and not be anything serious or to worry about? And also if it was an indolent lymphoma, would the nodes have grown bigger by now or not necessarily? Thank you for your time and help.
 es08 - Fri May 29, 2009 7:07 pm


it has been nearly a year and a half now and I still have the same size lymph nodes in my neck but I now have one very enlarged non tender, non painful tonsil with no other symptoms of infection that has been there for some time now. What would you suggest I do? Doctors keep telling me not to worry as the nodes will go down, but they haven't gone down at all and so now I am worrying, nobody has told me that it is normal to have nodes like this all the time so I would also like to know is it possible to have nodes this size forever and nothing be wrong with them? Thanks for your help.
 JPS - Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:42 pm

Hi, I'm not a doctor but can share my experience with you. I am 39 yrs old and have had enlarged lymph nodes under my jaw for over 12-15 years. As a child I had constant ear infections and tonsilitus. As a result my tonsils and adnoids were removed when I was around 12 yrs old. My nodes will swell when I get sick but never really go all the way down. They are about the size of peanut M&M and firm normally.

I'm not sure if they are normal and have had similair experiences with DR's telling me they are nothing to worry about. So after this long of living with them in this condition I have to think that I don't have a serious condition. Let m eknow if you find out anymore information concerning your situation and I will do the same for you.


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