Radiation Oncologist Questions Lymph Nodes

Does operating on the lymph node prevent spread of the cancer?

I have lymph nodes present around my neck. Although they don't seem cancerous, what are the chances of them developing into a cancer later. If I get these lymph nodes operated on, is it likely to prevent the spread of cancer?

6 Answers

First, you have to find what is causing swelling in your lymph nodes. It can be related to infection or malignancy in the head & neck area.Your PCP will be the doctor you see first. The doctor will look in your throat, ear, and mouth, do CBC and may treat you with antibiotic. If swelling is persistent, your doctor will send you to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist to do an endoscopy and CT the neck and chest to find out the cause. If the ENT doctor does not see any abnormality, you may need a needle biopsy if the neck node is big enough or persists more than a few weeks and does not respond to antibiotic treatments and you do not have collagen disease. We do not do surgery for noncancerous situations.
The lymph nodes need to be biopsied to rule out malignancy. Benign lymph nodes should not be operated on. They might be inflammatory and should be treated with antibiotics.
Dear Patient,
I would recommend that you seek consultation with your primary care physician for thorough evaluation. Your physician will complete a physical examination, and recommend referral for a biopsy if deemed warranted. This (a biopsy) would be necessary to determine if the lymph nodes are malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). The appropriate treatment would be recommended if the node is malignant. If treatment includes surgery, this procedure will excise/remove the cancer, and is not associated with any risk of spread. If the lymph node is benign, usually surgery is not indicated, unless associated with symptoms warranting such intervention.
Thank you for entrusting me with your clinical concerns.
Dr. EB
No, the removal of the lymph nodes tells us if the cancer has spread or not.
The likelihood of non-cancerous lymph nodes developing into cancer just because they are enlarged is basically 0%. The nodes may be enlarged BECAUSE of cancer, and that alone is a good reason to make sure they go back down after a course of antibiotics, and if they don't you should be checked out and have them biopsied. Depending on the type of cancer (assuming they are cancerous nodes) surgery to nodes may or may not be therapeutic (curative).
No. If you have lymph gland cancer, a biopsy is essential to make the diagnosis. Removal of the lymph node is sometimes necessary, but it does not prevent the spread of cancer. If the nodes are non-cancerous, find the cause of their enlargement and treat the cause.