spread to lymph nodes in the neck

Posted By
4/10/2011 3:05pm
Replies: 9

Does anyone know what the nodes in your neck would feel like if they were infected with melanoma?  I had my groin nodes removed a year ago and 3 weeks ago I noticed the lymph nodes on the left side of my adams apple are swollen.  It has gotten slightly more swollen and i have now noticed a lump right next to the lymph nodes.  Does anyone know what it would feel like if the nodes did have melanoma present?  I was just wondering if it would just feel like swollen nodes you might get from a sore throat or if there were any particular characteristics of melanoma in the neck nodes.  One doctor told me that if there were malignat melanoma present there would be a very hard lump and it would not hurt.  I'm probably just being paranoid.  thanks in advance.


all the love,



The general rule of thumb is nodes with cancer tend to be hard and unmovable and not sore.  Not always the case, but a basic guideline.  Having said that, the neck nodes seem to swell more than any other nodes in the body.  Infection is typically the cause.  It is possible to have nodes swell and also not return to normal size.  These are called reactive nodes.  They are enlarged, but benign.  You might consider talking to your doctor about some antibiotics.  If things don't resolve with antibiotics, you go from there.

Best wishes,


Hi Peter,

Just before I was diagnosed with melanoma, I had a lump in my groin lymph nodes that grew bigger and harder in a matter of weeks. My surgical oncologist felt it and said that is was likely cancer. She took a biopsy of the node and was surprised that it wasn't - took another biopsy to be sure and it also returned a negative result. Turns out, it was my own immune system fighting the cancer which ended up in the lymph node beside it.

With a history of melanoma and to be safe, I'd ask them to do a biopsy to see if it's anything to be concerned with.  It may or may not be anything to worry about.

All the best :)


Many impossible things have been accomplished for those who refuse to quit

Anonymous - (4/10/2011 - 4:31pm)

Definitely something to get checked out. My friend's neck lymph nodes were a soft swelling and it was positive for mel. So best to get checked out if not just for your peace of mind.

Chances are it's nothing but swollen glands fighting off an infection or a cold.

Let us know.


Had any head colds, infections, toothaches-or stuff of that nature recently?

Twice now in the 2.5 years since I have been diagnosed, my neck/under chin nodes have been swollen. Once was due to a head cold/upper respiratory infection, and the other due to a toothache-which I had to get antibiotics for. Even after the antibiotics, it still took quite some time for the nodes to get back to normal.

As others have said, try the antibiotic route, and go from there.

Betting it is something else.

Michael stage 1b

This information is for general patient educational & information purposes only. It should not be used for diagnosing/treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your healthcare provider.

Anonymous - (4/10/2011 - 4:58pm)

thanks for the quick responses guys.  I haven't had any type of cold or sore throat recently but the nodes have stayed swollen and progressively gotten worse which is worrisome. I want to have the area scanned but I don't know if it is worth it. When i had my original PET and CAT it showed nothing in the groin yet the SNB came back with 1 node positive.

Please remember that the neck nodes swell easily.  You might even have some tooth issues you don't know about.   That is why antibiotics is typically the first choice in situations like this.  FNA can only tell you if something is cancerous, but since they don't sample the entire node, they can't guarantee something isn't cancer if they come back negative.  PET/CTs don't have the type of resolution to show microscopic disease.  I don't remember the exact resolution but I believe something has to be larger than 5mm (maybe larger) to show up on the PET.  The CT slicing is also variable.  That is why the SNB is used and the PET/CT is not used for staging.  Microscopic cells in your positive node would have to grow quite large before the PET/CT could be of use. 

But the other thing I want to point out is there is a LOT of tissue between the groin and the neck nodes.  If you were to have mets to the lymph nodes, I'd say other basins and/or organs would be more likely than the neck.  It's really not "next" in most likely places to go.

Best wishes,


Perhaps you are overly concerned and find yourself palpating them too often? Believe it or not that has been discuessed here on this board.

In doctor speak, it does seem "unlikely" that melanoma would jump from your groin to neck nodes, but if you do feel the need discuss it with your doctor.

Best wishes,


This information is for general patient educational & information purposes only. It should not be used for diagnosing/treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your healthcare provider.

Hi Peter,

I tend to agree with Janner and Michael on this. My lymph nodes in my neck are often swollen ( I have a chronic cough and blame that) and many things make them feel worse. AND.. touching them a lot is one of those things. I've had many people, from the wise MarieM (here) to my doctors, tell me NOT to be palpating my lymphnodes, or lumps.

However, I am also someone who has had melanoma jump around my body in unpredictable fashion, bypassing my lymphnode basins entirely and showing up in places far distant from mty primaries.

So I understand how the fact that they are getting worse is worrisome for you.

I'd like to suggest that you discuss with your doctors the value of an ultrasound. This is a very quick procedure they can do right on your neck, avoiding having to go through a PET, which might be inconclusive. Sometimes very valuable information can be gathered this way, and I'm not sure why more doctors don't use it. It is not invasive, and would probably only take about 10 or 15 mintues, and cost gobs less than a CT or a PET/CT.

Try not to worry too much. I actuall had a PET scan come back a couple years ago with the report saying I likely had bilateral melanoma metastes in the lymph nodes of my neck when I had my PET done while I had a cold virus.

dian in spokane

I totally agree with the ultrasound.  Like Dian my mel did not travel in the lymph system and traveled around through the blood. My first node that was effected was last summer, over 3 years from the original recurrance. They did an ultrasound and then a month later did another one. When they saw growth then they acted.  When I had my original recurrance I had a lump appear under my arm, that time it ended up being nothing. 

Hope this is nothing!!