What do underarm lymph nodes do? Why do they swell up? And how do you know if the swelling is simply an infection – or might be cancer?
You're taking a shower, soaping up. And suddenly, underneath your arm, your fingers detect a painful, tender lump – one that wasn't there yesterday. Your mind starts to race: "Do I need to worry about this? Could it be an infected lymph node, even though I haven't felt sick? Could it be… cancer?"
What is the lymphatic system?
Your body's lymphatic system, made up of a series of small vessels, carries a clear liquid – lymph – from your body tissues to the heart. In the heart, lymph joins blood and is pumped via arteries back to the tissues. This efficient system helps drain excess liquid from tissues, and transports infection-fighting white blood cells to where they're needed.
What are lymph nodes?
Scattered along these small lymphatic vessels are up to 700 lymph nodes. These small (think...
Every time I shave my legs, I get itchy, red bumps. How can I get rid of them and how can I prevent them?
In order to take care of shaving-related irritations, it's important to know the underlying cause of inflamed bumps. Razor burn, which results from improper shaving techniques, can create a rash-like appearance that usually fades on its own after a few days. On the other hand, it's possible that those razor bumps are the result of ingrown hairs, which are also referred to as pseudofolliculitis barbae.
When shaving, make sure you use a gentle hand. If your problem is simply razor burn, you need to make a few adjustments to your shaving routine in order to reduce irritation and inflammation. To start, soften the hair by soaking your legs for several minutes in warm water. Invest in a moisturizing shave gel-soap doesn't cut it-and lather the shaving area completely. Let the lather sit on the hair for a minute before proceeding.
Instead of trying to hold on to dis...
There are three levels of axillary lymph nodes (the nodes in the underarm or "axilla" area):
Level I is the bottom level, below the lower edge of the pectoralis minor muscle.
Level II is lying underneath the pectoralis minor muscle.
Level III is above the pectoralis minor muscle.
A traditional axillary lymph node dissection usually removes nodes in levels I and II. For women with invasive breast cancer, this procedure accompanies a mastectomy. It may be done at the same time as, or after, a lumpectomy (through a separate incision).
Based on the doctor's physical exam and other indicators about the likelihood that cancer has spread to your lymph nodes, the surgeon will generally remove between five and thirty nodes during a traditional axillary dissection. The total number of lymph nodes "involved" (showing evidence of cancer) is more important than the extent of cancer in any one node.
Your doctor will let you know if any lymph nodes were involved (and if so, how many), as well ...
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