Neck lumps can be painless or painful, and they may develop in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be found on the side of the neck, under the jawline, at the back of the neck, or in the throat area. Most neck lumps are harmless. The neck contains lymph nodes, which swell in response to infection.
Adults frequently develop neck lumps, but the underlying cause is not always obvious. A lump in the neck could indicate a serious medical problem. It does not always imply that the patient has cancer or lymphoma, but it does indicate that additional medical testing is required before a diagnosis can be made.
You may need medical attention for a neck lump if you have the following signs and symptoms:
- The lump lasts longer than two to three weeks
- The lump gets larger
- The lump gets smaller but does not completely go away
- Ongoing hoarseness or changing of the voice
- Difficulty swallowing or pain
- Trouble hearing or ear pain on the same side as the neck mass
- Neck or throat pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever higher than 101°F
- Persistent cough
- A sore throat or congestion that does not go away
- Difficulty breathing
- Tender lump
Subtle clues, such as a new bump or vein changes, may indicate underlying issues and how quickly people detect these can have a significant impact on their treatment.
- General swelling
- A lump on the throat
- A thyroid mass is a lump that appears in the lower part of the neck or on one side of the neck.
- A large one called goiter may eventually make it difficult to swallow or breathe.
- Ballooning lymph nodes
- This is often just a sign that the immune system is working hard to fight off a virus or inflammation, such as a cold or the flu. However, if there are nodes larger than a golf ball, have them checked out because this could indicate one of several types of neck cancer.
- A swollen node that feels like a lump just below the jaw can be a sign of oral cancer, which is frequently linked to human papillomavirus, a common sexually transmitted infection.
- Tumors frequently begin in the mouth and spread to the lymph nodes, where they become visible on the neck. Early detection can improve prognosis and increase treatment options.
- A ropy bulge
- If you notice a ropy bulge that appears along the side of the normally smooth neck, this could be an indication of heart trouble. When a person has heart failure, their heart does not pump blood as efficiently, causing things to back up and the jugular vein to bulge out. Schedule an appointment with the doctor as soon as possible.
- Another red flag to call the doctor about is a visible neck pulse when your heart rate is resting. This could be an indication of a carotid artery tumor. A firm mass in the upper neck may be visible as well.
Many common symptoms are easily dismissed or misdiagnosed as the result of another illness or condition. Consult a doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary or if you experience discomfort. Track your symptoms and look out for any warning signs. To determine the cause of symptoms, the doctor may order diagnostic tests, such as a biopsy or ultrasound scan, or refer the patient to an ear, neck, and throat specialist.
What are the common causes of neck lumps?
Most neck lumps are enlarged lymph nodes. A congenital cyst, an enlarged salivary gland, and an enlarged thyroid gland are examples of lumps. A lump in the neck or throat is most likely to be caused by one of the following (though there are several other possibilities):
When should I remove the neck lump?
Depending on the size, the doctor may advise to wait and see, take medication or antibiotics, or (in some cases) undergo surgery. If there is a neck lump or cyst, the doctor may advise you to have it removed.
- If the lump is large, people may want it removed because it is interfering with their appearance and confidence.
- If benign lumps have the potential to develop into something more dangerous, it is removed.
- Removing cancerous lumps frequently necessitates extensive surgery, and the lymph nodes in the neck may need to be dissected and removed as well. This is done to keep cancer from spreading throughout the body.
The treatment of neck lumps or cysts is determined by the type of mass and the presence of infection. Besides the use of antibiotics, surgical removal of the mass is frequently required. Lumps in the head or neck region may be close to the airway, skull base, eyes, and a variety of other delicate or vital structures. The treatment of these lumps necessitates specialized surgical approaches.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Moffitt Cancer Center. What Doctor Should I See for a Lump on My Neck? https://moffitt.org/cancers/head-and-neck-cancer/faqs/doctor-for-lump-on-neck/
American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. Neck Mass in Adults. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/evaluation-of-neck-mass-in-adults/
Top When Should I Worry About a Lump in My Neck Related Articles
CystCysts are sac-like structures that may be filled with gas, liquid, or solid materials. Cysts may produce symptoms and signs depending on their location. Treatment of a cyst depends upon what caused the cyst in the first place.
Does a Needle Biopsy in the Neck Hurt?A needle biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure and does not require a large incision. Therefore, it is less painful compared to the standard surgical biopsies. Most patients experience mild pain after the procedure, which can be managed with painkillers.
Head and Neck CancerHead and neck cancer is cancer of the oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, or lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck. These cancers account for 3% to 5% of cancers in the U.S. Tobacco and alcohol use are important risk factors. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Head and Neck Cancer QuizLearn the facts about head and neck cancers.
Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)Neck pain (cervical pain) may be caused by any number of disorders and diseases. Tenderness is another symptom of neck pain. Though treatment for neck pain really depends upon the cause, treatment typically may involve heat/ice application, traction, physical therapy, cortisone injection, topical anesthetic creams, and muscle relaxants.
Neck Pain and DizzinessNeck pain is any degree of discomfort in the front or back of the neck between the head and the shoulders. Dizziness is characterized as either vertigo with disequilibrium or lightheadedness associated with feeling faint or the potential to lose consciousness. Causes of neck pain and dizziness vary, and treatment depends on the cause. With any unexplained or persisting neck pain or dizziness, consult with a health care professional, who can determine whether the symptoms are harmless and temporary or serious and threatening.
Causes of Neck Pain and TreatmentWhat causes chronic neck pain? If you have poor posture, bad sleep habits, or spine problems, these issues can lead to a stiff neck or other painful symptoms in your cervical spine. Learn about the most frequent causes of neck pain, including spinal stenosis, bone spurs, neck strain, and degenerative disc disease.
Nickel Contact Dermatitis from Necklace PictureAllergy to nickel is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis in children. See a Nickel Contact Dermatitis from Necklace and learn more about the health topic.
Skin Problems: A Visual Guide to CystsThese small sacs filled with fluid, tissue, hair, or dead skin can form almost anywhere on your body. Find out more about why cysts form and what you can do about them.
Swollen Lymph Nodes (Glands)Lymph nodes help the body's immune system fight infections. Causes of swollen lymph nodes (glands) may include infection (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasites). Symptoms of swollen lymph nodes vary greatly, but may include fever, night sweats, toothache, sore throat, or weight loss. Causes of swollen lymph nodes also vary, but may include cancer, the common cold, mono, chickenox, HIV, and herpes. The treatment of swollen lymph nodes depends upon the cause.
What Causes a Buffalo Hump on the Back of the Neck?A buffalo neck hump, or dorsocervical fat pad, can develop when fat collects on the back of your beck. Learn about 6 possible causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What Happens if Melanoma Gets Into Lymph Nodes?Melanoma is a rapidly progressive type of skin cancer. The treatment of melanoma depends on the stage of the disease. Lymph nodes are small glands that are part of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is involved in the formations of the white blood cells or WBCs. It is also the site where lymph, a clear fluid containing the white blood cells, is filtered.
What Is the First Sign of Throat Cancer?Throat cancer involves the development of malignancies of the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) and tonsils. The early symptoms of throat cancer may be similar to a cold in the early stages (e.g., a persistent sore throat). The three main types of throat cancer are oropharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer and hypopharyngeal cancer.
Why Do I Get Skin Tags on My Neck?What are skin tags on my neck? Learn what causes them and how to treat them.