Occurs in a range of infective or neoplastic conditions; less frequently enlargement occurs in active collagen disorders. May be isolated, affecting a single node, localised, involving several nodes in an anatomical lymph node grouping, or generalised, where nodes are enlarged at different sites. As well as enlargement in the easily palpable areas (cervical, axillary and iliac) node enlargement may be hilar or retroperitoneal and identifiable only by imaging. Isolated/localised lymphadenopathy usually results from local infection or neoplasm. Generalised lymphadenopathy may result from systemic causes, especially when symmetrical, as well as infection or neoplasm. Rarely drug-associated (e.g. phenytoin).

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