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armpit nodes follow-up; my physician says not to worry; should I get a second opinion?
Oct 18, 2002

I saw my physician about the three nodes in the 1-1.5 cm range in my axilla. He said they were probably smaller than they felt because they were way up in my axilla and the overlying tissue in your armpit can make them feel larger. He also said they were in the normal range, and since I am fairly lean, they are more easily palpable. He said that any little thing like chronic acne on your chest, strained muscles from working out, etc. could cause hyperplastic lymph nodes over time. His opinion was that felt normal and nothing to worry about. Would you agree with this or seek a second opinion? Thanks for your help.

Response from Dr. Dezube

This is a tough question with no clear cut answer-- this is a judgment call. Enlarged lymph nodes are VERY common and as your physician indicates they can be caused by so many things (animal scratches, colds, acne, and so on). We worry about lymph nodes that are increasing in size, which are associated with systemic symptoms (e.g. fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss), or when one lymph node (or one set of lymph nodes) is way out of proportion to the others. Often I just follow my patients lymph nodes over the course of a few months before I decide to biopsy them. That may be the wisest course of action in your case. However, frequently I do indeed biopsy the nodes; often this is done because of patient anxiety. So, you asked the question "Should I get a second opinion?". That is really up to you. It depends upon how much sleep you are losing over your lymph nodes. If indeed you are, then by all means, seek out another opinion. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with the advice of your physician (who sounds quite reasonable to me), then wait two months and see what happens. I say TWO months since often it takes that long for lymph nodes to declare themselves (i.e. to shrink in size or to grow). Please let me know what you ultimately decide.

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