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Avatar universal

Is it normal to palpate a small supraclavicular node?

I'm 41, male, and about 1 month ago I was purposely checking for lymph nodes for no reason other than a periodic check much like others do for other conditions. Well I was able to feel what I belive to be a left supraclavicular node if I gently pressed against the skin above the clavicle and dragged the fingers down to the clavicle. At that point a small node would pop out of the way of my fingers and the clavicle. It is not painful. It's not hard and it's not fixed. I feel like it's larger than 1 cm, but I realize that the overlying tissue might magnify the size. I went to my internist about a week after finding it and he had a difficult time palpating it and suggested we just follow up in a few weeks. I'm a fairly anxious person and the last few days have not been without worry. When I research left supraclavicular nodes the information all refer to abdominal processes like cancer or lymphoma. The research, though, only mentions the nodes in those conditions being large, rubbery or hard, fixed and immovable.

Could I have caught some process early before the hardening and pain?

Are there benign reasons to feel a left supraclavicular node?

In researching the 'net, I've seen nothing about being able to palpate normal, non-pathological left supraclavicular lymph nodes. Everything seems to suggest that you shouldn't be able to feel them. I don't seem to have any obvious symptoms other than a recent change in bowel habits right around the time I started to worry.

Is it possible that I'm feeling a non-pathological supraclavicular node?
10 Responses
1081992 tn?1389903637
Hi, Otis. The answer to all your questions is 'yes'.

That's not being flippant, but it indicates that only an 'excisional biopsy' can say for sure. But no doc would think that's justified in your case. So we go by probabilities instead.

I think of Virchow's Node (left supraclavicular) like this: it's like a fine net stretched across the mouth of the Mississippi River. It catches everything that comes downstream from a *lot* of territory. It can catch a cancer cell and make for metastasis in the node. But it can also catch some pathogen. I suppose it might also respond to upstream signalling biochemicals and enlarge because of that. Signalling chemicals are very powerful.

Summary: for you, the odds say not-cancer because it's so small. If it gets much larger, or rock hard (as in metastasis and calcification), then you can
immediately go to an oncologist. But for now, don't worry and have a Merry Christmas :)
Avatar universal
Thanks for your answer. I got an ultrasound today which noted that it was a node and gave dimensions of 1.0 x 0.6 x 1.1 cm. The radiologist who read it recommended a CT of the chest with contrast.

How many nodes are there in the left supraclavicular area?

While it's not rock hard, it doesn't feel mushy. What's a regular normal node feel like? I can't really press on it because it moves away. The ultrasound said noting about it being connected to any nearby structure.

Which area does it drain? I've seen different things on the internet. Some say stomach mostly others say colon. I feel like I've had a change in bowel habits over the last 10 days like less frequency, yet still soft, less volume, and thinner stools, but I've been worried about it considerably. Thank you.
Avatar universal
Good news was that an excisional biopsy and pathological examination determined it was benign and merely reactive.

The surgeon recommended I have it removed because my father had a history of large B cell lymphoma. The node was 1.6 cm, therefore it was abnormally large. But, again, benign.

Thanks you for your response.
1081992 tn?1389903637
Hey, Otis, that's wonderful news. Congratulations.

I wonder if your node got ~50% larger between the time of the scan and the surgery, or if the sonogram had somehow underestimated the size. You are quite right that online searches only show the left supraclavicular node as being involved in cancer, but not being reactive; yet you are a real world example that it can be reactive.

Sorry I had missed your Dec 4 post.

It might very well be that you have an especially reactive immune system. The immune chemical histamine is also a neurotransmitter which can be involved in anxiety, btw. (Prozac was developed from Benadryl.)

Thanks for posting your update. Great news.

Avatar universal
This has made me feel somewhat better.  I am 39 year old female and I have had a left supraclavicular node for about 3 weeks now that is about 2 cm.  it doesn't hurt when I touch it directly but the area around it hurts. Maybe from me poking at it.  It has me so worried from what I have read online.  The doctor did a chest X-ray which was fine.  He gave me antibiotics but did not shrink it.  He said next would be a ct scan and possibly biopsy.  He mentioned lung cancer which I read was characteristic of the right supraclavicular nodes.  I have been searching for some promising info that could lead me to believe it's something other than cancer .  Your post makes me feel better.  I do have lupus and Sjögren's syndrome.  Praying it is fine.  
1081992 tn?1389903637
Hi, if you search for-->  Left supraclavicular node ddx


You'd discover one of my favorite sites (AAFP), saying in Table 3 that:

"Thorax, abdomen via thoracic duct [can be from]
Lymphoma, thoracic or retroperitoneal cancer, bacterial or fungal infection"

Plus many other sites saying similar.  Ddx stands for 'differential diagnosis'.

The abx would not reduce a fungal infection, and might very well make it worse. I also don't see why it cant be a viral cause, or your immune system reacting to a non-existent threat.

If it got that large almost overnight and then stopped growing, that's a pretty good sign that it's not cancer.
1081992 tn?1389903637
Avatar universal
Hi Otis,
My story is so similar to yours.

can you tell me about the biopsy process? who did it for you? your internist?
Avatar universal
Anyone know anything about the right clavicle. I have had a great deal of pain and discomfort. It leaves my arm feeling tired and numb at times. I also have a constant sharp pain to my sternum and pain with inhalation. I had an ultrasound fri. Said I have a hypoechoic mildly vascular ill defined nodule. 1cmx.5cmx1cm. Everything suggest ok but I clearly am having loads of pain. I also have deficient b12, vitamin d, and slight anemia. I have other random symptoms as well, but not sure where to go next or if I should be freaking as much as I am!
Avatar universal
I have a small 1.1 cm x 0.8 cm lymph node on the left side of my neck it's soft like and moveable also painless. Its right above the left collar bone towards the back almost center of my neck. Ive had it for around 3 months but could be longer but thats how long ive noticed it there. I had a ultrasound and a cbc and i go back for a follow up in 5 days and then they will determine whether we will investigate deeper or if it appears to be a normal node. Either way most of the time i hear that swollen lymph nodes no matter what location are usually benign as long as they are not rock hard and bot moveable. The doctor gave me a example, he said bend your arm and run your fingers over your elbow and feel how hard it is and how you cannot move it he said thats how a suspicious "lump" would feel.
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