Q.I have had a hard knot in my neck for two and a half months. I began to worry because my aunt died of Hodgkin’s disease in her 20s, which is my age. I went to a doctor, and he said it was normal and probably left over from a viral infection, and that if it is still present in two months to come and get a biopsy. He did not bother to ask any other questions.

I became very frustrated and upset. Now I’m not sure what to do. It’s only on one side, and it’s immovable and firm. I looked up the symptoms and have experienced most of the ones for Stage I. I’m a medical student and I am sure something is wrong, but I refuse to see that doctor again.

Emily

A. As I always say, if you are not happy with Doctor Number 1, go to Doctor Number 2. I must admit I do not like the description of an immobile mass and I would recommend a biopsy.

Certainly lymph nodes may become fibrotic (hardened) after an infection, but they are usually mobile.

(I have one behind my ear, and when I was a med student I was convinced it was a sign of cancer! I also thought I had beriberi; don’t ask me why — med school does strange things to the mind!)

You should have a CBC (complete blood count) done, and you should get a second opinion. Even if you have to see a doctor not covered under your health plan, the investment will be well worth the peace of mind. Good luck — with finding out what is going on with the neck mass as well as with medical school.