How to check your lymph nodes

You have been diagnosed with skin cancer that on occasions can spread into the lymphatic system that is why as part of your examination your lymph nodes are examined by your doctor at follow up appointments. The lymph nodes examined depend on the location of your skin cancer e.g. if your skin cancer was on your leg then the lymph nodes in your inguinal area (groin) will be felt or if on your face then the nodes in the head and neck would be examined. The aim is to detect any enlargement of the lymph nodes and undertake investigation at an early stage.

How Often Should I Check My Lymph Nodes?

Checking the lymph nodes once a month is sufficient and this can be done at the same time as you check your skin for any changing moles. Checking them more often may result in difficulty noticing any change.

Do not panic if you feel a lymph node, as it may be due to an infection but if it has not gone in a week contact your doctor or clinical nurse specialist.

How to check lymph nodes in the armpit
  • Remove top clothing down to the waist to get easy access to the armpits. Sit in a comfortable position. Check each armpit in turn. To check the left side lift your arm slightly then place the fingers of your right hand high into the armpit and then lower your arm.
  • Feel in the central area of the armpit. Now move your fingers firmly against the chest wall as follows:
  • Along the front border of the armpit.
  • Along the back border of the armpit.
  • Feel along the inner border of the arm.
  • Now check the other armpit.
Last updated 2013

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