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Large swollen gland that won't go away
Apr 2, 2001

Hi, I tested HIV negative last September - but for the last few months I've had a large lump on the right side of my neck. I try to feel for the 'pea sized' node and all I can feel is the muscle??? But it's noticably larger than the other side of my neck. Also I have pains in my elbow and under my knees a lot but cannot usually feel anything. Sometimes I think I do but I may just be imagining it because I'm looking for it. So my questions are: Should I be concerned about my neck and do swollen glands typically hurt or not? Thanks, and keep up the tremendous work.

Response from Dr. Dezube

Lymph nodes can swell as you body fights off infections. It's very common to have lymph nodes pop up from time to time. Lymph nodes are very common in HIVers as they try to fight off the HIV. In patients, such as you, who are HIV negative, lymph nodes in general do NOT persist. Typically when I see a patient who is HIV negative with a large lymph node, I watch is for a period of time (usually about 4 weeks); if it persists, then it pays to have it biopsied to find out what's going on. There's no other way to find out. Lymph nodes are less worrisome if they occur in the setting of an infection (e.g. dental infection, recent cold) and more worrisome if they occur "out of the blue". Larger lymph nodes are more worrisome than smaller ones. It's hard to give you a firm answer as to your lymph node, but the key is whether or not this is a persistent finding. Our motto for persistent lymph nodes is "when in doubt, take it out". Hope this answers your question. BD.

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