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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lymphoma

Question: sore lymph node related to surgery?

 pj523 - Thu Sep 29, 2005 9:39 pm

I have what I think is a sore lymph node on the left side of my neck for about a week, about the middle right next to my esophagus. It isn't excruciatingly painful, but enough to be annoying. It bothers me more when I turn my head to the right. It doesn't really seem to be swollen too much but it does feel hard.

I guess I'm a little paranoid considering my husband's brother in law was just diagnosed with cancer that's spread to his lymph nodes and he's relatively young and I just want to find out if it's likely or not likely cancer. I read that cancerous nodes usually aren't painful, so that makes me feel a bit more comfortable. However, I can't come up with a possible cause for why it would be swollen. I feel fine, no sore throat and I don't have any signs of an infection, cold, or flu. The only thing I can think of is that I had my gallbladder removed due to gallstones on August 31st, almost a month ago. Could that be related in some way? The surgery and recovery went fine with no complications at all.

This is really worrying me due to recent events in my husband's family and I just would like to set my mind at ease a bit and find out if it's something I really need to go running to my doctor about. It's also kind of baffling me because I don't seem to have a sign of any infection that usually causes swollen and/or sore lymph nodes.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Mon Dec 19, 2005 6:57 am

User avatar Hi pj523,
One of the common reasons for lymph node enlargement is bacterial/viral infections (even seemingly unapparent one's) because the lymphatic system is the bodies defense for fighting infections. This essentially means the body is functioning properly. Please confirm the nature of your finding by direct clinical examination by your physician. It is probably a lymph node it occurs in a lymph node region, however this must be confirmed by your physician.
Palpation is the first step to confirm the presence of a lymph node enalrgement, followed by ultrasonography and CT scan. PET scans have been reported in some studies to yield better results than CT scan but they are very expensive and not always available. Abnormal lymph node enlargement tends to commonly result from infection / immune response, cancer and less commonly due to infiltration of macrophages filled with metabolite deposits (eg, storage disorders).
Infected Lymph nodes however, tend to be firm, tender, enlarged and warm. Inflammation can spread to the overlying skin, causing it to appear reddened.
Lymph nodes harboring malignant disease tend to be firm, non-tender, matted (ie, stuck to each other), fixed (ie, not freely mobile but rather stuck down to underlying tissue), and increase in size over time.
Sometimes, following infection lymph nodes occasionally remain permanently enlarged, though they should be non-tender, small (less the 1 cm), have a rubbery consistency and none of the characteristics described for malignancy or for infection. These are also known as 'Shotty Lymph nodes'. An increase in nodal size on serial examinations is significant. Although it's not an impossibility for this enlargement to be connected to your surgery but in my opinion I would most likely relate it to another cause. Have an evaluation by your physician to identify if there is reason for concern.
Theresa Jones, RN

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