Q. Lymph node enlargement due to fever does not subside for a long. Could it be cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Sameer Kumar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
Published on Dec 21, 2019

Hello doctor,

I am a 35-years-old female. Four years ago, I got a bad flu and I felt horrible pain around my neck. When I put my hand on my neck I found two small balls one on my right side and one on my left side. My doctor said it is because of the flu and I got one pack antibiotic. After one month I found that two lymph nodes may be smaller but did not disappear. I ordered blood test again,and they came back normal.

I went to another doctor he ordered a blood test and he said nothing to worry. I went back to the previous hospital, they kept doing blood tests for me every three months and last year after I fought with them, they did a CT scan and they found the biggest one size is 0.8 cm and they said it is normal and I should not worry.

So far I saw five doctors and they said not to worry and the last one I saw was last week, she told me to stop touching it and try to forget it because they will not disappear and they refused my request for biopsy and they said the size is normal. But I am really scared and I cannot stop thinking about it and what about if it is cancer and they do not know. How would they know if they did not do a biopsy? In the last visit she said if it was a cancer and you have it for four years you would have other symptoms. I do not know what to do, especially after they said no need for biopsy and I am really scared when I go to bed at night I touch them and I cannot stop crying. Please let me know what do you think? I am tired of doctors, each time they touch them and I got a smile do not worry you are fine. If I am fine why they did not disappear?

Dr. Sameer Kumar

Infertility Obstetrics And Gynaecology


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Ii understand your concern. After going through your elaborate history, it appears that you have had cervical lymphadenopathy secondary to the flu you had four years back. Lymph nodes are basically the policemen of the human body, they are the first to get inflamed and enlarge when the vicinity which they drain gets infected. It appears from four to seven days after infection. If one takes antibiotics, which as you did the infection so contained in the lymph node gets treated and the swelling reduces in size. But whenever the healing occurs by some amount of fibrosis, so the lymph gland healed but did not reduce to its complete original size.

Now again if the gland has not been increasing in size, or painful, or shotty in feeling or have recruited other lymph nodes or there has been a continuous weight loss in these four years, or the natural immunity has gone down and you suffered multiple infections all this while, they all suggest or at least indicate towards a malignant change or cancer. In the absence of these signs, malignancy is unlikely.

Secondly, the size of the largest being 8 mm. Malignant lymph nodes are way larger from 4-8 cm (40-80mm) and multiple and aggressive in nature. There is two ways of finding any form of malignancy in lymph nodes.

1. HIDA (hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid) scan to look for the hot spot.

2. If a hot spot not found in HIDA , then considering the lymph gland benign, further the diagnosis can be then established by FNAC( fine needle aspiration cytology).

3. If costs permit a PET (positron emission tomography) scan can be done to put rest to any further doubt. Depending on the SUV values the malignant and benign nature may be ascertained.

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