Q. Why a swollen lymph node that I have had for two years, has shrunk on taking Prednisone?

Answered by
Dr. Arvind Guru
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 09, 2017 and last reviewed on: Oct 23, 2019

Hello doctor,

Two years ago, I discovered a small lump in my neck near the back right side. My GP said it did not seem like anything to worry about and to come back if it grows. I noticed no growth, but it did not go away or shrink either. A year and a half later, I developed a rash and stomach bloating and cramping, so I went to another doctor and said I was concerned the lump is lymphoma and causing the other symptoms. The doctor ordered an ultrasound. The node measured 1 x 0.9 x 0.4 cm. The results said it has the appearance of a lymph node. The doctor said I could have an ENT look at it if I like, but that he thinks it is nothing to worry about. The rash and stomach pains cleared up soon after, so I did not pursue it further.

Now, last month I started to have chest tightness where my air passage felt like it was being restricted. I went to an urgent care and was put on Prednisone for ten days. The chest tightness has cleared up, but there is still a little irritation in my right lung area like I can feel something in my chest. The strangest thing is that after two days on Prednisone, I could no longer feel the lump in my neck. In two years, it had not changed, and after two days of Prednisone, I could not feel it. However, within 3 to 4 days after stopping the Prednisone, I could start to feel it coming back. It is now about two weeks since I have stopped the Prednisone and I can easily feel the lump now. It does not feel as large as before yet and would be hard for someone else to feel, but it has returned after stopping the Prednisone.I did some reading about how Prednisone can mask lymphoma symptoms, such as temporarily shrinking the nodes. Are there any other explanations for why a swollen lymph node that I have had for two years, would shrink while on Prednisone and then start to regrow after stopping it?

Dr. Arvind Guru

General Surgery Surgical Gastroenterology Surgical Oncology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • The lymph nodes in the neck, if multiple and greater than 1.5 cm should be biopsied. Especially, if it is persistent for a long time.
  • Most of the symptoms you have had are unrelated to lymphoma, but in a persistent lymph node, lymphoma should be ruled out.
  • This is especially true if you do not have any other site of infection or injury in your scalp, mouth, teeth, gums, ear, nose, or throat to explain it.
  • Regarding shrinking of nodes, whether lymphoma or otherwise, most lymph node will shrink because of Prednisolone. This is because it suppresses body's immune cell multiplication (which occurs in both lymphoma and infections).
  • So, better get yourself evaluated by a local medical oncologist. It mostly will turn out to be nothing significant, but still, rule it out.

For further queries consult a surgical oncologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/surgical-oncologist

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