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Enlarged lymph node in ultrasound?

hkcool
Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2011

I recently had posted in the Head & Neck section but my story has changed somewhat so I figured it might not be appropriate to post there. Anyway, this is the link to the thread since it has lots of information that would be tedious to repost here:

http://csn.cancer.org/node/229216

Here's the short version:

I recently went to an ENT clinic because I noticed a slight swelling in one of my neck glands on my right side. The ENT at my college campus was dismissive and said there was nothing wrong. I was a bit worried so I went to get a second opinion. The ENT clinic doctor said that the swelling is very common and that it's not really a cause for concern, but told me to get an ultrasound and FNA to be safe.

I went to the campus ENT two weeks ago and I'm relatively sure there was no swelling back then. It started maybe 1.5 weeks ago AFTER I saw the campus ENT. In the past 3 days I've developed a very slight sore throat but I don't feel sick at all.

I got the ultrasound today and the radiologist said there is an enlarged lymph node on the right side and that some of them on the left are slightly swollen. She said we could wait a month to do the FNA to see if this might be caused by a typical infection. When I asked if it could be cancer, she said she wasn't too concerned since it's on both sides, but we need to rule out any malignancies so I should come back in a month.

Could be that I'm sick with a cold or something, but then why do I only have a sore throat more than a week after the swelling started?

I'm scared to death right now. I'm an otherwise healthy 19 year old, don't smoke, or do drugs, and have no family history of lymphoma or anything.

Just need a place to vent and seek advice while I wait this month out...

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2019
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi HK,

I know you are afraid and this is normal. "Waiting" can be a miserable
experience but try to hang in there. You are welcome here anytime
and there are lots of caring and supportive people at this site.

I read your post and threads at http://csn.cancer.org/node/229216.
You can move the entire topic from the head and neck board to this
board if you desire.

I'd recommend you paste the pertinent parts of the prior post etc, to
the "about me" section. It's much simpler for folks on here to go there
at anytime and get the scoop and know you a little better. Just don't
post any identifying information anywhere. These posts are globally public.

First, I'm not a medical professional so consider anything I say from
a layman's standpoint who happens to have a little experience with
cancer - lymphoma. There are much more knowledgeable people here.

I have some questions for you - mostly my curiosity but
there's some method to these also:

1. Did you have any of these symptoms or similar ever
before you left for school abroad?
2. Where are you - what country?
3. How long have you been there?
4. Have you been away from home for extended periods in the past?

When I was about your age and in college (I'm ancient comapred to you now ;)),
I used to get sore throats and swelling in the lymph nodes in my neck. I
would usually have fever and fatigue (which you don't present). Turns out
I had residual sublingual tonsil tissue that kept getting infected.
It responded to antibiotics and later I had surgery to remove the tissue regrowth.
I've pretty much have never had a sore throat since. I was also under a lot of
stress at that time as I was carrying a much higher than average course load
and also worked part time.

From everything you've posted, I think cancer is doubtful but as many will
tell you here, it's better to have it checked out sooner than later.
Below is a link at WebMD that has tips on coping with anxiety. Hopefully
that will help some. Please keep us posted.

Big hugs and positives your way,

Jim

Coing with Anxiety

hkcool
Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2011

Hey Jim thanks for your response and the link. I think I will be able to better deal with the anxiety this time since I was able to do it this weekend. It's just that I was hoping to get some relief after going to the ENT and now I'm anxious all over again.

Anyways,

1. Symptoms as in the lymph node swelling? As anxious as I am, I normally don't feel my lymph nodes ever, but I *THINK* (but if here) that two weeks ago they weren't swollen. When I got freaked out that the general doctor said the lymph node might be swollen about 2.5-3 weeks ago, I was feeling it constantly and I'm pretty sure it is not as it is now. I sometimes get sore throats at home without any other symptoms, but I always attributed it to either a virus or allergies and it clears up in a week or two.

2. Hong Kong. Might be worth noting that some of my friends recently had a cold and also that I got food poisoning in Shanghai almost a month ago. Not sure if that has any influence whatsoever. My friend ended up with shigella flexneri/shigellosis. I'm pretty sure I got the same bacteria since we ate the same food and I got sick as well, but I recovered after a day whereas she had to be hospitalized for bloody diarrhea and the like.

3. 2 months

4. At home, the college I go to is on the other side of the US from my home state, but I've never been in a foreign country for this long.

I don't have any problems with my tonsils though. I have been under constant stress since being here though, not mostly related to schoolwork but most just living in a new country, etc etc

Much thanks again

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2019
Joined: Aug 2011

Make sure you tell your doctor(s) about all of this.
The swelling apparently happened after your exposure to shigella
but as you said may be unrelated but the timing is interesting.

Hopefully you got all your immunizations, etc. before your move
to Hong Kong.

You are in a new country and culture and attending school. I'm
assuming you know or are learning chinese as well. There are a
lot of potential stressors going on there. Be good to yourself.

Hang in there buddy,

Jim

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2019
Joined: Aug 2011

Something to maybe help with culture shock and maybe a little
"homesickness" is find something American there - a place you can
go and feel a little more at home, eat some burgers, watch football
or whatever you're in to. That might help with some of the stress
maybe? Hopefully it won't make it worse. I'm sure you probably have
skype or similar - get on line with some friends/family in the US
might help as well.

Hey, you're on an exciting adventure and I think it's cool what you're
doing!

擁抱和好运!

Hugs and good luck (if I babel fished it right).
Don't know if it's Cantonese though ;).

Jim

allmost60's picture
allmost60
Posts: 3164
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi,
Jim has covered all of the bases, so I will just welcome you to the board and let you know we are here for you. As soon as you get more information and figure out what is going on, please come back and let us know whats going on. While your waiting this month out come here as often as you want to talk about your fears and concerns...someone is always here to listen and help. Best wishes to you...Sue
(Follicular NHL-stage3-grade2-typeA-diagnosed June 2010-age 61)

hkcool
Posts: 15
Joined: Oct 2011

Thanks to you and jim for the very kind responses. I think I'm going to stop prodding and touching the node for a few days. Even though I only gently touch it maybe constantly doing that is irritating it further. Is that even possible?

I think I may have stress-induced acid reflux as well because the lump in throat sensation was gone for the past three days when I was super relaxed. I ate something greasy today and am stressed already, and noticed it has returned slightly just after eating. Laying down makes it a bit worse. Could this possibly cause some lymph node swelling?

One more thing to note - Around 3-4 weeks ago, I had a bag skin allergic reaction to some weird chemicals used in a Chinese knockoff sportsbag from China. Apparently I was badly allergic to some weird industrial by-product they used to coat the bag and after wearing clothing in the bag I broke out from head to toe in hives. I didn't have trouble breathing but they did have to give me an injection of antihistamine at first to calm it down. The rash was on my neck too. Not sure if there's any connection though.

@Jim - I'm actually Chinese so I'm a bit acclimated to the culture here already haha. I don't speak much Cantonese. Just a little bit I learned from my grandparents back in the US and also some phrases I've picked up while I'm here. I don't know any written Chinese at all so I can't tell you if that's right or not! The written Chinese in Hong Kong is traditional Chinese, which is basically code for "complicated." Many of the characters have way more strokes and are much more complex than their simplified Chinese counterparts

jimwins's picture
jimwins
Posts: 2019
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks for the info.
I don't know if the acid reflux can cause the swelling but
I know it can cause damage to your esophagus and other areas.

Suggestions:

1. Learn to control stress.

2. Keep a diary of your episodes with acid reflux and document
what you ate before hand and avoid those foods. Maybe you
will determine a pattern in behavior or food you eat.

3. Get medical attention for the acid reflux and get that
under control as it can cause all kinds of complications later
in life.

Keep us posted and feel free to come here anytime.

Hugs,

Jim

donna87
Posts: 9
Joined: Nov 2011

My cancer (hodgkins lymphoma) presented in my neck but you don't appear to have any of the other red flags that signal cancer like I was constantly sick and starting coughing up blood. An ENT is the kind of doctor that diagnosed me and I think yours has the right idea waiting it out but I am curious why they did not order some antibiotics to see if the lymph nodes shrink, then they could really rule out the cancer

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