What is cervical adenopathy?
The cervical lymph nodes in the neck filter the fluid responsible for transporting a types of white blood cells through the lymphatic system. Cervical lymph nodes are important because they help to fight infection. However, sometimes lymph nodes can swell as a reaction to infection, injury, or cancer.
What causes cervical adenopathy?
In general adenopathy can be caused by infections, inflammatory disease, and cancer. Infections causing cervical adenopathy typically start in the head and neck such as the throat or the ear. Likewise, most cancers in the lymph nodes of the neck are metastatic nodes originating from a cancer somewhere else, such as the throat or thyroid gland. Cancers that start in the lymph nodes are known as lymphoma and can first manifest in the neck.
When should I see a doctor for cervical adenopathy?
The likelihood of cancer in the cervical lymph nodes depends largely on your age group and risk factors (HPV exposure and tobacco use). In general, lymph nodes present for greater than 4 weeks should be evaluated. Likewise, lymph nodes associated with weight loss, persistent fevers, night sweats, or coughing up blood deserve evaluation. Many infectious causes of cervical adenopathy resolve with supportive care such as fluids, rest, and anti-inflammatory conditions. But if your lymph nodes do not resolve in typical fashion, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with one of our otolaryngologists.