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Axillary lymphadenopathy


Axillary lymphadenopathy is the increase in the volume of one or more lymph nodes in the armpits. This modification of one or several lymphnodes is not to be taken lightly, as it can have many causes, ranging from the most benign (infection, cat scratch disease ...) to the most serious (cancer, leukemia, tuberculosis ...). A professional should always be consulted.


A first visit to the doctor results in a clinical examination with the assessment of the size and consistency of the node. In an evidently benign case, such as a localized infection in the arm on the same side, no further review is necessary. Sometimes, additional tests are performed: blood, radiological assessment, or mammography in women and lymph node puncturing.


Axillary lymphadenopathy can be hot and painful, or hard and painless. The first case is a little more reassuring because it can be caused by a minor infection, or sometimes slowly-evolving disease such as mononucleosis. In the second case, the lymphadenopathy may be suspected to be related to more serious diseases: breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, autoimmune disease, blood disease. The size of the node, firmness and sensitivity are all factors to consider.


Axillary lymphadenopath is a symptom of diseases that range from the mildest to the most severe. The treatment will therefore be directly related to the cause of inflammation of the lymph nodes. Infections can be treated with simple antibiotics. Breast cancer or leukemia can be treated by surgical treatment, appropriate chemotherapy, or sometimes transplants. In cases of lymphadenopathy associated with breast cancer, axillary dissection, the cleaning of the affected lymph nodes, is sometimes necessary.


Measures of prevention are numerous, since many conditions may cause axillary lymphadenopathy.

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