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Cancer

Lymph node right clavical

04/11/2008

Question:

I have had a swollen lymph node right clavical for about three weeks now. My doctor did a CT scan of chest and mammogram. Also chest X-ray and blood work which all came out normal. She put me on Augmentin for 10 days but I got sick from it, so now just straight Amoxicillin. She does not believe it`s cancer from the testing, and it`s also soft in touch. The node itself isn`t painful, but it is around my neck. I`m a 49 year old female, and she said if the Amoxicillin doesn`t take it down, then I would get a biopsy. However, the first time I was on it, she did say she thought it had gone down. I just want to know if this info seems correct and if all the appropriate testing up to this point has been done?

Answer:

Lymph nodes can enlarge during infections such as a cold or skin infection.  Also cat scratches are a common reason.  Some tumors can show up in a lymph node as well.  The tests your doctor ordered appear to be appropriate to look for common cancers that could spread to a lymph node.  The exam is important too.  If the lymph node does not completely resolve with a short course of antibiotics, I agree that the lymph node should be biopsied or removed so that it can be evaluated under a microscope.  It is common for the lymph node to be enlarged without a clear reason and not cancerous, but it is important to be sure by removing it.  This can be done as an outpatient under local anesthetic or local with mild sedation. 

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Response by:

Jeffrey J Sussman, MD Jeffrey J Sussman, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery, Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati