Histologic diagnoses in persistently swollen cervical lymph nodes

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Biopsy and histological examination of persistently enlarged cervical lymph nodes represent a major health care issue and have high impact on further clinical therapy. Tertiary health centers are faced with an increased demand for diagnostic workup to rule out malignancy. We performed a retrospective study from January 2000 to June 2008 to identify patients referred to us for diagnostic biopsy and to document the histopathological result.


Patients with a diagnostic biopsy, but neither clinical signs of head and neck cancer nor other malignancies, were identified within the records. Patient characteristics and histopathological diagnosis were retrieved.


Three hundred twenty-six patients were identified (146 women, and 180 men). One hundred twenty-three patients (38%; 44 women, and 79 men) had a malignancy: 61 with metastatic disease and 62 with malignant lymphoma; the youngest was 15 years old and the oldest was 92 years old.


Persistently swollen cervical lymph nodes should trigger a thorough clinical examination and prompt biopsy for histopathological workup.

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