The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and don’t get much of the spotlight until something goes wrong even though they are essential to health. Since they don’t get much attention, for most people, not a lot is known about the nodes other than they can be a sign that there is cancer in the body. This is why there are many myths that circulate around lymph nodes but the best way to know the difference and bust the myths is to be knowledgeable about the nodes.

The Back Story

As stated before, the nodes are part of the lymphatic system. Their job is to filter debris, pathogens, cancer cells, viruses, and bacteria. In addition, foreign substances are destroyed in the nodes. The lymph fluid that travels through the body washes over the cells cleaning and delivering nutrients passes through hundreds of nodes without the benefit of an organ to pump it through. It is an important part of the immune system, which is essential to health. The lymph nodes are part of the lymph system that includes the following:

  • Tonsils
  • Adenoids
  • Spleen
  • Appendix
  • Peyer’s patches
  • Bone marrow
  • Lymphatic vessels
  • Lymph
  • Thymus

It is no myth that the tiny bean shaped gland is a sign that there is something happening in the body, but there are some myths about the lymph node that should be cleared up. This way when it alerts the body there is something wrong, proper attention can be given to the alert. Now to the good part… lymph node myth busting!

MYTH #1 – A SWOLLEN, ENLARGED LYMPH NODE IS CANCER

A swollen, enlarged lymph node is a sign that the body is fighting off an infection (DR. LEPISTO: How toxin overload can make you sick). Commonly there is a minor infection and the lymph node will return to its normal size within 2-3 weeks when it is done doing its job of fighting off a pathogen. Rarely is it a sign of cancer, but it can be, so it is important if there are signs that a lymph node should be examined by a healthcare professional to go get it checked out. Even if it isn’t cancer the infection might be too big or spread too far for the body to fight off without some medical intervention.

MYTH #2 – LYMPH NODES ARE ONLY IN THE NECK AND ARMPIT

There are over 500 lymph nodes located throughout the body filtering lymph from various regions of the body. Some are close to the surface of the skin while others are located deep in the body. They are often first noticed on the neck and the ones in the armpit are familiar to women who have regular breast exams done. Another common area that they are noticed is in the groin with others located in the torso, limbs, and head.

Check Out More About – Lymph Node Locations

MYTH #3 – INFECTION IS THE ONLY CAUSE OF SWOLLEN NODES

The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is an infection and rarely the cause is cancer. There are some medications that can cause lymph nodes to swell. Anti-seizure medications like pheytoin, (Dilantin) and typhoid immunization can affect the nodes.

MYTH #4 – CANCER DOESN’T ORIGINATE IN THE LYMPH NODES

Lymphoma is a blood cancer that originates in the lymph nodes; there is Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer can originate in other parts of the body and spread to the nodes before going to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads the mortality rate increases.

Knowing the truth is what busts up myths. They circulate from lack of knowledge on a subject and this is why the lymph nodes have a number of myths following them around.

Interested in busting a few more? Go to 6 More Lymph Node Myths Busted.