Together we will beat cancer


Supraclavicular lymph node swelling

10 May 2018 13:01


I have multiple enlarged lymph nodes in my neck, above my collar bone, and in my groin. More and more keep appearing, and I am seeing haemotology at the end of the month after being referred by my gp to ent and then as soon as ent looked at my ct scans, x-ray, and bloods my gp had done they referred me straight away to haemotology. My gp however couldnt spot anything unusual in my blood other than raised TSH -!. ESR, she didnt mention anything about my x-ray and my ct scan they 'couldn't tell' if they were normal reactive lymph nodes or not. 

My question really is, what would be reasoning for them to be be able to tell? Also, my supraclavicular lymph node seems to be getting larger, but occasionally the whole area around it seems to swell for a day and then go back down? Is this normal? Does it mean that the lymph node is swelling then decreasing in size again or is it just the skin around it? The lymph node has definitely increased in size over the last 2 months but the up and down of the actual swelling is confusing me!


sorry for all the questions. Thank you. 

Supraclavicular lymph node swelling

11 May 2018 10:00 in response to SunshineEm

Hello SunshineEm,

Thank you for posting a question. I am sorry to learn about your situation.

The interpretation of scans is a specialist job, done by doctors with additional training. Therefore your GP is not likely to be an expert in this field, although I am sure that they will have a working knowledge. I would imagine that your GP was sent a report from the specialist who looked at the scan along with the findings and some information about what they might mean. But sometimes the findings are inconclusive.

CT scanning largely relies on the size of the lymph nodes to work out if an enlarged lymph node might be cancerous. The clinical picture (the symptoms someone has and any previous diagnosed illness) also are considered. Malignant (cancerous) lymph nodes are usually quite big. Nodes that are enlarged because they are fighting infection can be bigger than 'normal' but they are not usually above a certain size. I cannot tell you what size is considered worrying for malignancy as it varies depending on the part of the body. I would guess that it your case the nodes were borderline enlarged making it difficult to know if they were cancerous or reactive. However I am only making an educated guess that this is the case with you. Your GP may be able to confirm this or not, as I assume that they have the full report.

I have tried to think of a plausible explanation as to why the swelling occurs and goes down again. It might be something to do with  how much you use your arm and shoulder, as movement can help drain fluid from various parts of the body. But  to be truthful I really don't know.

I can appreciate that waiting to find out what might be the matter must be very difficult, but I don't think that there is much more that you can do until after you have seen the haematologist. 

 Please get back to us if we can help in any other way.  You may find it helpful to talk things through with one of the nurses on our helpline.  The number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

All the best,