It may be surprising and upsetting when you discover a lump on your neck that you haven’t previously noticed. The good news is that neck lumps are common and most often harmless. They can come in different sizes and textures, and they’re usually non-cancerous.
But there are a few types of lumps that could be a sign of a more serious condition, and you can’t detect these through simple home evaluations.
Visiting an ear, nose, and throat specialist such as those on our team at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates is always a good idea if you notice a neck mass. Chances are good you have nothing to worry about, and as with many health issues, early detection and medical treatment leads to the best prognosis.
Today we discuss a few of the more common causes of neck masses, but if you have any questions or concerns, call to make an appointment with Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates at one of our three locations.
Enlarged lymph nodes
Whenever your body experiences an infection, your lymph nodes may become swollen because they are filter tissues that store white blood cells needed to fight infection. They also store dead cells and bacteria to be flushed from your body. As well as causing lumps on either side of your neck, lymph nodes are located in your armpits, under the jaw, in the groin, and above your collarbone.
Either fluid-filled or solid, thyroid nodules are usually harmless, but they can indicate an autoimmune disorder or cancer. In addition to a lump on your neck, a thyroid nodule could cause a cough or difficulty swallowing. Your voice may be hoarse, and you may have pain in your neck and throat.
A viral condition that most often affects people of high school and college age, mononucleosis can cause neck lumps due to swollen lymph nodes as well as symptoms similar to thyroid nodules. In addition, you may have headaches and overall fatigue. Body aches and night sweats are also frequent symptoms.
The mumps virus is very contagious, spreading through mucus, saliva, and close contact with those infected. The salivary glands swell, causing pain through increased pressure, usually felt at the rear of the cheeks. You could feel fatigued and achy, with accompanying fever, headache, and loss of appetite.
The neck is a common spot for lipomas to develop. These are fatty tissue deposits that can occur at any age, but that generally don’t affect children. Lipomas usually aren’t painful and won’t cause other problems. But a type of cancer called liposarcoma can resemble a lipoma, so you may need a biopsy to confirm your lump is benign.
Skin and other types of cancers can lead to bumps on your neck. Some types of skin cancer cause raised growths that are often a different color. Throat and thyroid cancers produce lumps that are under the surface of the skin, pushing out and causing difficulty with swallowing and breathing in some cases.
There are many more causes that could be behind the mass on your neck. For a diagnosis and treatment, call one of our three locations to schedule an appointment.