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What about those collarbone glands?
Dec 29, 2002

Dr. Bruce,

Thanks for everything, you rock!

I've read here, and elsewhere on the web, that swollen lymph nodes above the collarbone are of particular concern. Why is that? Are they always cancerous? What else could cause them? Is HIV the only virus nasty enough to cause them, or could a more benign virus cause them as well?


Response from Dr. Dezube

Lymph nodes in the collarbone area (what we call supraclavicular lymph nodes) are a bit more worrisome than arm pit, groin, or neck nodes. This is because something as simple as a scratch on the hands or feet can cause lymph nodes in the arm pit and groin, respectively; in a similar fashion a sore throat can cause neck nodes. Supraclavicular nodes don't typically swell as often as do arm pit and groin nodes. Enlarged lymph nodes are very common in HIV'ers. HIV positive folks can indeed get swollen supraclavicular nodes. Indeed other viruses can cause swollen nodes. I would be particularly concerened if I saw a supraclavicular lymph node which was out of proportion to other lymph nodes. This could indicate a problem in the chest. I would be even more concerned if the supraclavicular lymph node was popping up in a smoker. At the very least, this would prompt me to order a chest x-ray, and perhaps a chest CT scan.

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