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Does a swollen lymph node need to be removed?

Q: I am a 35 years old man who developed a lymph node at the back centre of my head. Two years back, it was negligibly small. But for the past four months, its size has increased thrice. Now, I am in Libya and I don’t know much about the doctors here. I will come back to India after seven months. How do I stop it from increasing? I feel pain only while pinching it.

A:I presume from your description that the nodule has increased in size and has shrunk each time. This may be a lymph node, or it may be a cyst. The danger is that it may get infected and need a small operation. Therefore you should have it removed. Should you wait till you return after seven months? The answer is yes, if you do not want to get it removed while you are abroad. Waiting will not cause any serious risk. If it does get infected, you can always get emergency surgery done abroad. If the nodule has grown thrice, but has never shrunk, it must be much larger now than it was four months ago. In that case it is better to have it removed now, and biopsied.

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