Lynne Eldrige, MD, is a lung cancer physician, patient advocate, and also award-winning writer of "Avoiding Cancer someday at a Time."

Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell


Since lymph nodes save the white blood cells that space our very first line that defense versus infection, lock are regularly enlarged as result of infections. Enlargement of lymph nodes with an infection deserve to be great or bad.

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It is good in the sense that they space the powerhouses save immune cells. In other words, enlargement the the lymph nodes may mean your body is act its project to solve ​an infection.

This principle was not always well understood, however, and for a long time that was thought that removed the tonsils would help prevent infections. When tonsils space severely damaged, remove them deserve to be a great idea.

But if they room healthy and only doing their job, removing them it s okay rid that the functional "first place" where bacteria traveling in the lymphatic vessels might be "arrested."


Lymph nodes can catch viruses and bacteria however are additionally susceptible to infections themselves. For those who have actually been told to watch because that a "red streak" after ~ an injury have learned that infections (usually staph or strep) may begin in one infected wound and also spread quickly along lymph channels.

Infections entailing the lymph nodes often cause a far-ranging fever and also chills. Cat scratch fever is an infection brought about by the bacterium Bartonella henselae and also istransfer through exposure (usually via a rest in the skin) from an infected cat. Enlarged lymph nodes related to catch scratch fever space usually non-tender yet can be very large.


Lymph nodes space commonly affiliated with cancer, yet their role often differs in between solid tumors and also lymphomas. V solid tumors such as chest cancer, the cancer cells usually travel to lymph nodes prior to traveling (metastasizing) to other regions that the body.

Cancers that have actually spread to lymph nodes are usually a higher stage than those that have not, meaning they have actually a higher risk that recurring or spreading. In a sense, the spread of cancer cells to lymph nodes has claimed its will to take trip elsewhere.

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With lymphomas, in contrast, the cancer begins in the lymph nodes. When lymphomas infect regions other than lymph nodes, it is not described as metastasis as with solid tumors, yet rather together "extranodal involvement."

Other conditions

There are plenty of other problems that can cause enlarged lymph nodes, varying from autoimmune conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) to genetic syndromes, sarcoidosis, and also more.

Injuries and Trauma

Since the lymph nodes room the rest stops for the "workers" or the white blood cell which clean up a site of trauma, they are frequently enlarged with any injury. You can think the the lymph nodes together being a van stop close to a natural disaster whereby the firemen and paramedics room hanging out all set to perform their job.