Metastatic lymph nodes

Malignant cancer cells can break away from a tumour and travel through the bloodstream to the lymph system, where they grow and form metastatic lymph nodes that can be fel

Overview

Malignant cancer cells can break away from a tumour and travel through the bloodstream to the lymph system, where they grow and form metastatic lymph nodes that can be felt.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Sudden appearance without any sign of infection of swollen lymph nodes that don't grow smaller again (remaining enlarged for longer than two weeks)

Metastatic lymph nodes can reach a diameter of several centimetres. They are easy to feel and also visible to the eye in the neck, the armpits and the groin. They are hard, but usually painless.

Other symptoms

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Causes and treatment

Causes

Metastatic lymph nodes appear sooner or later with every cancer (including leukaemia), as cancer cells travel to lymph nodes in the vicinity, where they start growing.

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Ultrasound (sonography)
  • Removal of a tissue sample (biopsy) to examine under a microscope
Possible therapies
  • Metastatic lymph nodes can be removed by surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Medication (chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy)
  • Treatment of the tumour as the cause

Under some circumstances it can also make sense to combine these different forms of therapy. Unfortunately it isn’t always possible to halt the further progression of the disease.

What can I do myself?

  • Cancer patients should regularly go to the doctor for a check-up

When to see a doctor?

  • Swollen lymph nodes but no infection (in particular if the lymph nodes are hard and painless)
  • Swelling that doesn't disappear within two weeks

Synonyms

lymph node metastasis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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