Swollen Inguinal Lymph Nodes
Swollen or enlarged inguinal lymph nodes are lumps or bumps which, in case they are big enough, can be palpated by the very patient. They can be additionally painful or there is no pain and discomfort at all. Plenty of patients are not satisfied when they found these lumps since they first think of a cancer as a possible cause of the lumps. Luckily, not each and every enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes points to cancer. These lymph nodes are in charge with lymphatic drainage of numerous organs in the pelvis and there is a variety of causes why they become enlarged.
Causes of Swollen Inguinal Lymph Nodes
Inguinal lymph nodes are in charge with lymphatic drainage of the penis, scrotum, vagina, vulva, perineum, gluteal area as well as lower abdominal wall and lower anal canal. Generally, there are three basic reasons why inguinal lymph nodes become enlarged. They include infection, injury and tumors. Sometimes inguinal lymph nodes are only transitory enlarged, which is good, since it points to infection. In case they are enlarged for longer period of time, especially if they grow over time this can be symptomatic for cancers.
Enlargement of inguinal lymph nodes is typical for infections. These lymph nodes are classified as reactive lymph nodes and they generally do not exceed the length of 1 cm. Inguinal lymph nodes may enlarge in different sexually transmitted diseases (herpes simplex, syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum, and, so on). Infections of the legs and feet can also cause enlarged inguinal lymph nodes. This enlargement usually lasts for certain period of time and eventually withdraws as the disease is brought under control by specific medications. Recurrent inflammation or enlargement of inguinal lymph nodes can result in scarring and some of them may stay enlarged.
As for malignant diseases enlargement of inguinal lymph nodes can be caused by primary or secondary tumors. Lymphomas are primary lymph node tumors which can affect every lymph node in the body. Even though inguinal lymph nodes are not the exact predilection place of these tumors, both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma can originate from these lymphatic structures. Metastases in inguinal lymph nodes may originate form a variety of primary tumors.
Doctors will examine the patients and if they suspect on infection patients will be given suitable medications. In case that enlargement does not go away biopsy of the enlarged lymph node is necessary. Biopsy of enlarged inguinal lymph nodes is also indicated if a doctor suspects on primary malignant tumor or a spread of the tumor of other localization. CT scan of the pelvis and MRI can provide with good insight prior the biopsy and may even help in detection of the primary tumor.