Swollen glands are in fact swollen lymph nodes. Glands, or lymph nodes, are part of the body's immune system and help to fight infection. Glands are small, oval and soft in structure and can be located under the skin's surface or deep within the body. Swollen glands are usually noticeable in the neck, under the armpits or in the groin. Swollen glands are typically as a result of a viral or bacterial infection but can be a sign of more serious conditions such as cancer.