Lymph Node Checks
Why Check Lymph Nodes?
If you have certain types of skin cancer, it can spread to other parts of the body forming new growths called metastases (met-tas-te-sees). Even if your main cancer has been removed by surgery, there is a chance that cancer cells may spread away from the area by way of the lymph system. Lymph nodes are all over the body and often act as "filters" to trap cancer cells. For this reason, it is vital for you to check your lymph nodes in the area near your cancer on a routine basis.
Where Are Lymph Nodes Found?
Lymph nodes are found in chains or clusters (see picture). Not all of the lymph nodes can be felt. They may be flat, round, or oval shaped, and their size often varies from being too small to be felt up to the size of an olive. If checked on a routine basis, you will know how your lymph nodes feel when they are normal, and you will be more aware of any changes if they occur.
Changes to Feel and Look For
Changes in a lymph node or group of nodes, such as soreness or an increase in size, do not always mean that your cancer has spread since these changes may also occur with infection or other illness. Still, these changes should be noted, and you should tell the clinic of any changes.
How to Check Your Lymph Nodes
With the pads of your fingers, press lightly using gentle, small circle motions and enough pressure to move the skin, but not so much that the nodes are pushed into the softer tissue around them. Some areas, such as under the arm, may require somewhat firmer pressure.
Check the lymph nodes in your _______________________________________ area once a month or as your doctor or nurse instructs. Checking the areas too often can cause swelling and soreness in the area.
Who to Call with Problems or Concerns
You will be shown where and how to check your lymph nodes while you are in the clinic. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Mohs Surgery Clinic, Monday through Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm at (608) 263-6226.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 during regular clinic hours and ask for Mohs Surgery West.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/08/2012
Copyright © 05/08/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4571
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