Lump on Neck: Could it be Cancer?

It is obvious to get concerned when you discover any new lump on neck. Good news is that, most of the cases of lumps on the neck are acute and harmless. However, sometimes lumps on the neck may be the presentation of more serious condition that may need immediate medical attentions.

Your body has many lymph nodes that plays key role in fighting off the virus, bacteria and other illnesses. Among all the areas, most common areas that you may notice swollen lymph nodes are neck, underarms and groin. Most of the lymph nodes in our body can’t be felt; they can only be felt during illness. In normal healthy person they are non-tender or painless. During illness they may be tender and swollen. In this article we’ll focus on lumps that arises in different location of the neck and their possible causes.

Lump below the jaw
Any lump below the jaw on either side may be due to swelling of the submandibular lymph node. Swelling occurs when there is infection of the head, neck, pharynx, ears, eyes, and scalp.

Lump below Chin
Any lump below the chin may be due to swelling of submental lymph node. Swelling occurs due to various conditions and disease like infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, toxoplasmosis, dental pathology such as periodontitis.

Lump on side of neck
When you find any lumps on side of neck, they may be due to infection in the tonsils, tongue, pinna or parotid gland. Most common causes of lump on side of neck is pharyngitis

Lump behind the ears
Any lump behind the ears may be due to swelling of post-auricular lymph node. Most common cause for its swelling is local infection on the ear and sometime the scalp.

Lump in front of the ears
Swelling of pre-auricular lymph node results as lump in front of the ear. This may be due to infection in the external auditory canal of the ear.

Lump on Neck

Lump on Neck

Lump above the right clavicle
When there is any lump above the right clavicle, there may be something wrong with the lungs or the esophagus. When there is swollen right supraclavicular lymph node, it may suggest cancer of the lung or the stomach.

Lump above the left clavicle
Lump above the left clavicle may suggest lymphoma or thoracic cancer, while sometime it just may be due to fungal or bacterial infection.

Lump on back of neck
Lump on back of neck may just be due to local infection in the head or neck region. However, if the lumps are either side of the back of neck, they might also be due to lymphoma, tuberculosis or any head and neck cancer.

The most common causes of painful lump in the neck are due to infection and usually are self-limited and can resolve quickly after infection is controlled. However, some lumps can lasts longer for several months and can create confusion with the cancer. Experts agree that the lumps above the clavicle (supraclavicular) should be immediately investigated for cancer.

Risk factors for malignancy include the followings:

  • Old age
  • Firm, fixed and hard lump on neck
  • Painless
  • Duration more than 2 weeks
  • Supraclavicular location

Visit your doctor (especially ENT doctor) if you have any unexplained lumps on the neck. He/she will perform a though examination and when there are no any specific signs and symptoms of any serious disease or malignancy, your doctor may keep you on observation for a month. If the lesion still persists, he/she may perform biopsy or other specific tests.

If you are experiencing persistent enlargement of lymph nodes that lasts more than 2 weeks or if they feel hard and painless, you should get it checked immediately. Don’t rely on what you have learned and seen on the internet and try to diagnose yourself. Get it checked and confirm its benign nature so you don’t have to regret later.

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