What Is Cervical Adenopathy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2019
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Cervical adenopathy is a swelling in the cervical lymph nodes found around the head and neck. The swelling can be the result of inflammation or infection in the nodes and may be self-limiting or need treatment. A physician can evaluate a patient to determine the cause of the enlargement and develop a treatment plan on the basis of the reasons for the condition and the patient's general level of health. In some cases, cervical adenopathy is a sign of serious underlying disease.

The lymph nodes act as collection points for lymph, a fluid that circulates throughout the body to support the immune system. They tend to trap debris, foreign bodies, dead cells, and other materials. When people are ill, their lymph nodes naturally enlarge because the immune system is working harder, and may be producing more material. Over time, the nodes can eliminate this material and return to normal size.

Patients may develop this disorder in association with a variety of conditions including colds and flus as well as serious infections. Sometimes cervical adenopathy becomes chronic, as in the case of swelling associated with conditions like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In these patients the nodes may not be able to express the material they contain independently, or cannot eliminate it fast enough to allow the swelling to go down before more infectious and waste materials enter the lymph nodes.


When a patient presents with swelling around the head and neck, the doctor can palpate the area to check for cervical adenopathy as well as enlargement in other structures. This can be an important part of diagnosis and treatment, as the growth might not actually be related to the lymph nodes. If the doctor has concerns about malignancies, a biopsy may be necessary to take a sample of cells from the swelling. A pathologist can examine the sample under a microscope to determine what kinds of cells are involved and to check for signs of malignancy.

Treatment for cervical adenopathy usually involves addressing the underlying condition and allowing the nodes to recover on their own. If the patient has cancerous cells in the lymph nodes, surgery to remove them may be necessary. The doctor may take neighboring nodes as well even if they do not appear to be involved, just to be on the safe side; the nodes may harbor cancer cells that might start growing into tumors. After surgery, the patient may need chemotherapy and radiation to limit the chances of recurrence.


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Post 3

Can hypothyroidism lead to cervical adenopathy?

I've had all sorts of blood tests including STD testing and all came back negative. The only health problem I have is hypothyroidism for which I'm being treated for with medications. But the swelling around my neck is increasing. My doctor wants me to go back for more blood tests next month.

Could hypothyroidism be the cause?

Post 2

@fBoyle-- I get a lymphatic message routinely. It's not a treatment but it does help remove blocks in the lymph nodes which can happen because of infections. So the massage helps relieve toxins and reduces inflammation and swelling.

I highly recommend it but make sure that the underlying cause is being treated. If you have an infection, massage is going to do nothing. It might relieve symptoms temporarily but unless the infection is treated, the symptoms will always return. Lymphatic massage can be used in additional to treatment.

Post 1

Has anyone tried lymphatic massage for the treatment of cervical adenopathy?

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