The enlargement of lymph nodes, often depends on an infection. However, in some other cases, it is benign, and in rare occasions it is a symptom of an autoimmune disease or a tumor. Professor Armando Santoro, Director of Humanitas’s Cancer Center, answered a question about this, by a reader of his blog, on

Generally, enlarged lymph nodes indicate the presence of a bacterial or viral infection. In rare cases, they are related to an autoimmune disease or cancer. In other cases, for instance if the enlargement is long-lasting and does not change in time, it is surely benign.

“For example, in some cases minimal stimuli, such as the tiny lesions one provokes while shaving, a perfume, a deodorant, or even a too-tight piece of clothing, may cause the reaction of lymph nodes”, Prof. Santoro says.

When should you go to the doctor?

You should ask for medical advice, if you notice your lymph nodes getting bigger. Your doctor will tell you whether you need to see a specialist or to do an echography.

A more thorough check is needed when the lymph nodes get larger or if you have symptoms such as fever and weight loss.