Lymphadenopathy | Medical Council of Canada
Close this search box.


Version: February 2017
Legacy ID: 54


Lymphadenopathy can be localized or diffuse, and benign or malignant. Patients frequently present when they find a palpable lymph node.

Causal Conditions

(list not exhaustive)

  1. Localized
    1. Reactive (e.g., tonsillitis)
    2. Neoplastic (e.g., metastatic cancer)
  2. Diffuse
    1. Infectious (e.g., viral)
    2. Inflammatory (e.g., sarcoidosis)
    3. Neoplastic (e.g., lymphoma)

Key Objectives

Given a patient with lymphadenopathy, the candidate will diagnose the cause, severity, and complications, will initiate an appropriate management plan, and in particular, determine the need for a biopsy.

Enabling Objectives

Given a patient with lymphadenopathy, the candidate will

  1. list and interpret relevant clinical findings, including
    1. an appropriate history and physical examination;
  2. list and interpret relevant investigations, including
    1. laboratory and radiological studies;
    2. indications for a biopsy;
  3. construct an effective management plan, including:
    1. determining whether basic observation and/or treatment is indicated, or if the patient requires urgent referral;
    2. determining if the patient requires non-urgent referral (e.g., serum sickness);
    3. counselling and education of the patient regarding the nature and scope of needed investigations.