What does a cancerous lymph node feel like?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

A cancerous lymph node can have a few distinct characteristics that differentiate it from a normal or benign lymph node. It is important to note that not all swollen lymph nodes are cancerous, but recognizing the signs can be helpful in identifying potential concerns.

1. Size: A cancerous lymph node may be larger than normal. While normal lymph nodes are usually less than 1 centimeter in size, cancerous lymph nodes can be significantly larger, sometimes reaching several centimeters or more in diameter. However, it is important to remember that the size alone is not enough to determine if a lymph node is cancerous, as other factors need to be considered.

2. Texture: Cancerous lymph nodes often feel firm or hard to the touch. Unlike the soft and pliable texture of normal lymph nodes, a cancerous lymph node may be more solid and unyielding. This is due to the abnormal growth of cancer cells within the node, causing it to become hardened.

3. Mobility: A cancerous lymph node may feel fixed or immovable when touched. This means that it does not easily slide or move beneath the skin, unlike normal lymph nodes that are mobile. This lack of mobility is due to the infiltration of cancer cells into the surrounding tissues, causing adhesion and fixation of the lymph node.

4. Pain: Cancerous lymph nodes are typically painless, especially in the early stages. This is in contrast to swollen lymph nodes caused by infections or inflammation, which can often be tender or painful to the touch. However, it is important to note that as cancer progresses or if there are other factors involved, such as infection, pain may be present.

5. Shape: Cancerous lymph nodes may have an irregular shape or feel irregularly enlarged. While normal lymph nodes are usually round or oval in shape, cancerous lymph nodes can have irregular borders or may appear asymmetrical. However, it is important to consider that other factors, such as inflammation, can also cause lymph nodes to appear irregular in shape.

It is important to remember that these characteristics are not definitive proof of cancer, and a proper diagnosis can only be made by a healthcare professional. If you notice any concerning changes in your lymph nodes, such as persistent enlargement, unusual firmness, or other worrisome symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation.