|Lymph nodes- what size is worrisome?
Dec 29, 2002
With all of this talk about lymph node biopsies, can you please clarify this for me. I understand that it is normal anatomy to have nodes all over, especially in the arm pit and groin. I am sure that the size varies, but what size is really critical. Is a 1.5 cm lymph node in one of these areas within the range of normal? This would be if it is not growing and moves around easily (and no symptoms). Or is this too big? I am sorry if you have addressed this before. Thanks
Response from Dr. Dezube
I have indeed addressed this question on many occasions, but it is an important question and worth repeating. Although you ask a simple question, "what size lymph node is worrisome?", there just is NO simple answer. For the most part, lymph nodes greater than 1 cm are more worrisome than lymph nodes less than 1 cm. And, lymph nodes greater than 2 cm are even more worrisome. However, there are sooooo many other factors that go into the calculation, by which a provider decides whether a lymph node is worrisome or not. For example, lymph nodes in the groin and arm pit are so common (since the legs and arms are constantly being scratched), that nodes in these areas are often less worrisome than other nodes. Lymph nodes in the setting of symptoms (fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss) are worrisome even if they are not 1 cm, particularly if they are persistent. If one lymph node is out or proportion to other lymph nodes, than that lymph node is also worrisome. HIV patients often get more lymph nodes than folks who are HIV negative. So in short, there is no single size, below which a lymph node is "safe" and above which it is "dangerous".
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