The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I've noticed that several of my lymph nodes in my neck are bigger than they used to be (about the size of a small bean), except there is one in my groin that is a bit bigger. I saw a doctor and he did a lot of tests. He said everything came back negative, but I'm still concerned. Could I have cancer?

Marty (age 17)


Answer

The lymph nodes are involved in fighting infections. Swollen lymph nodes usually indicate that an infection is being fought off. The lymph nodes can remain swollen for a while, up to several weeks or more, after the infection is gone.

Some lymph nodes are near the surface and can be felt are in the groin, armpit, neck (there is a chain of nodes on either side of the front of the neck, the sides of the neck and on the back sides of the neck), under the jaw and chin, behind the ears, and on the back of the head. Unless a node is larger than 1/2 inch, it is considered "normal." Even when bigger, the question is are they getting bigger or are they painful or do you have a fever. Nodes between a 1/2 inch to 1 inch usually indicate a viral infection. Nodes greater than a inch indicate a bacterial infection. Which lymph nodes are swollen gives a doctor a hint as to what disease you contracted.

Since the tests came back negative, the most likely cause is a recent infection that has gone away, but the lymph nodes have not returned to their usual size. It is possible that they might not shrink all the way down to their original size, but if they aren't big, then it is usually not a concern.

Cancer that involves the lymph nodes would be extremely rare in such a young person as yourself. In addition, there would be other symptoms besides just swollen lymph nodes. Given the extensive tests that the doctor did, I'm sure he ruled out diseases and cancer. Thus you just need to relax. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (Matthew 6:34).