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What Does it Mean if You Have Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Groin?

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/22/2010

There are several causes of swollen groin lymph nodes. These are commonly due to infection with bacteria and viruses, or can be due to cancer and tumors.

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    Swelling

    The causes of swollen groin lymph nodes vary, from conditions such as bacterial infections to sexually transmitted disease to cancer. The groin lymph nodes are found in the area between the pelvis and the leg. They may either be deep or superficial. When these nodes are affected by infections or tumors, they usually become swollen, and may result in discomfort and pain.

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    Infections

    Infections, such as those caused by viruses and bacteria in certain parts of the body, usually result in the swelling of the groin lymph nodes. Some examples are infection of the genitals, and infections that affect the skin, muscles and bones around the pelvic area. Most common bacteria that may cause these infections include Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. Viral infections, such as chickenpox and measles that affect the whole body can also lead to swelling, not only of the lymph nodes in the groin, but also of the lymph nodes in the armpit. Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea and chancroid can also lead to swelling of the groin lymph nodes. Patients with toxoplasmosis, caused by the parasiste Toxoplasma gondii, may also exhibit enlargement of the groin lymph nodes.

    Enlargement or swelling of the groin lymph nodes occur during these infectious processes because the white cells present in the lymph nodes are usually the ones that act against bacteria and viruses. The lymphatic system, usually bring these harmful substances toward the lymph nodes. As these are detected by the immune system, there is then production and proliferation of white blood cells (WBC) in the area. Reaction between WBC and bacteria, may result in inflammation and in the swelling of the affected lymph node.

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    Cancer and Tumors

    Swelling of the groin lymph nodes can also be the result of tumors and cancer. Many types of cancer that develops in the groin area may drain into these lymph nodes, thus resulting in their swelling. When this happens, cancer from a primary site is said to have already spread to other organs by way of the lymphatic system. Other cancers which can cause groin lymph node swelling are melanoma and cancer of the vulva in females.

    Cancer of the blood, known as leukemia, and the malignant proliferation of lymphocytes, known as lymphoma, can also be the cause of the presence of swollen lymph nodes in the body, not only in the groin area.

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    Recommendations

    When swollen groin lymph nodes are found, affected individuals are encouraged to seek medical consultation. This is especially advised if the swelling has been going on for more than two week and is accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss, fatigue and persistent fever. Diagnosis is usually made through physical examination and blood tests. Treatment usually depends on the cause of the swelling.

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    References

    emedicinehealth: Swollen Lymph Nodes

    MedicineNet.com: Swollen Lymph Nodes Symptoms