The most common reason for a lymph node to swell up on the chest is infection, reports Patient.co.uk. However, a swollen lymph node in the chest that remains for several weeks and is not accompanied by an infection may indicate Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.
A swollen lymph node in the chest is difficult to notice at first, warns Patient.co.uk. It is very unlikely for a patient to notice the swelling during the early stages of the disease. However, if a tumor develops and begins affecting the lymph nodes in the chest, breathing problems and coughing may develop.
Lymphomas are very rare, states Patient.co.uk. The swollen lymph node is not painful and increases in size gradually. However, one out of 10 patients has reported that the lymph node aches after drinking alcohol. To confirm a diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a specialist takes a biopsy of the affected nodes to look for cancer cells.
The most common sites for swelling in the lymph nodes are the neck, chin, armpits and groin, according to Mayo Clinic. They generally do not require special treatment and return to normal size on their own. Unlike in Hodgkin's lymphoma, lymph nodes swollen due to infection or bacteria are usually tender and painful. If the lymph nodes remain enlarged after the infection is gone, a medical professional should be consulted.