So I'm pretty confused about what's a normal lymph node and what's not. The more I read about them and people's opinions, I can't really make heads or tails over what's a problem and what's not.
The only bit of info that seems real consistent is if you have a node that keeps growing then you need to get it checked out.
I have read that Dr. Paul or Dennis comment that lymphoma can exist in any size lymph node, which I would agree has to be true since it has to start somewhere. However, that means everyone could have lymphoma if it exists in any lymph size. Since I don't hear about people getting their nodes biopsied all of the time, I assume their must be some type of criteria doctors use to make a diagnosis for further evaluation.
Hard lymph nodes are supposed to be a warning sign also, but what I think could be hard has been verified by doctors as not hard. I guess a bad node would feel like a rock?
So what seems medically inconsistent to me is:
- Lymph sizes, unless abnormally large.
- Lymph nodes being tender or not. I've had nodes that haven't caused any pain and nodes that have caused pain, but it doesn't seem that either is consistent with a warning sign.
- Lymph locations, maybe it's worse to have swelled lymphs in one area versus another?
- Lymph pain without any swelling. I'll get this in my armpits sometimes and possibly the groin.
- Rubbing on your nodes causes them to stay big?
- If you have had a large node for a year or longer, but it hasn't increased in size then it's probably not of a concern? Or a node that swells and shrinks and swells and shrinks is probably just the node doing its job?
I would like to trust my medical doctors but it seems like they will only take interest if I have a Godzilla growth going on. It seems that lymph node testing would be the basic function of a medical doctor, so generally all doctors should be trained and have an idea when a node doesn't feel correct, right?
What about methods of testing to find out if a node is indeed enlarged? For example, I think I have some swelling in my groin area, but it's not pronounced enough to call it the size of a grape or something like that. To avoid unnecessary radiation, would a pelvic ultrasound show the size of a lymph node in the pelvic region? How about an MRI for checking out nodes?
And history about myself is elevated EBV titers for the last 7 months and a slightly enlarged spleen found two months ago. All kinds of various symptoms, which I have presented to my doctors on numerous occasions, but these two have been the most major findings from all of my testing. Occasional low lymphocytes from CBC tests, but my last CBC has the level back up in the acceptable range. I was under the impression that swollen nodes from EBV would be tender and painful, but mine are not always that way. Or maybe my nodes are done with the infection but now they need time to recover and shrink back down?
I am not a doctor but I am going to answer some of your questions according to what I have read and what I understand.
1) When doctors talk about a 'hard' node as a cause of concern I agree with you is usually 'stony hard' (for metastasis), and 'rubbery' (which for me is hard but not as a stone) for lymphoma.
2) Tender nodes are usually caused by an infecction.
3) Pain is not a very good indicator between malignancy or not. I was worried about what I supposed to be a painless swollen lymph node. My doctor told me that lymph nodes are usually painless. So, in my opinion, you shoud not panic for having a painless lump.
4) Location is very important factor. While supraclavicular swollen lymph nodes are usually from malignancies, inguinal lymph nodes are 79% (of the biopsed ones) due to a reactive reacction.
5) Rubbing your lymph nodes keep it big and they will not shrink if you touch it (this I know because my GP told me)
6) If you have a swollen lymph node that has not change during a year is probably that is bening. Also if you have a swollen lymph node that last two weeks or less is not a cause of concern.
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