When are swollen lymph nodes a cause for concern?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Swollen lymph nodes most frequently occur as a result of exposure to bacteria or viruses, resulting in a condition known as lymphadenitis. Lymph nodes are crucial in combating infections as they are involved in the production of immune cells, which trap and destroy infectious organisms. Occasionally, swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer, as cancer cells can spread via the lymphatic system.

Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin. Swollen lymph nodes which remain swollen and palpable after several weeks, will warrant attention as concern as this indicates either a prolonged infection or a biologically proliferative process.

Relevant investigations include radiology scans, blood tests and possibly biopsies, which will help to determine the cause of the swelling. Pathologists are able to diagnose the conditions, benign or malignant, via examining biopsy specimens under the microscope.

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