Neck masses, or lumps in the neck, can occur in people of all ages. They can range in size from very small to very large, and can occur in almost any area of the body, including the neck. Lumps can form in the lymph nodes, neck muscles, thyroid gland, salivary glands, larynx, parathyroid glands, trachea, cervical vertebrae, and veins.
Causes of Neck Masses
Neck masses can be caused by many factors, but are most commonly the result of an enlarged lymph node. Lymph nodes can become enlarged due to strep throat, tonsillitis, ear infection, sinus infection, and more. Because lymph nodes help the body to fight off infections, they may become enlarged when you are ill. Neck masses may also be caused by allergic reactions, infection, thyroid gland disorders, or cancer. They may also be benign.
Benign Neck Masses
Sometimes, benign (non-cancerous) masses occur on the neck. These masses can include cysts, lipomas, and inflamed lymph nodes. A biopsy of the neck mass can help to determine diagnoses.
Neck Masses Due to Infection
Neck masses due to infection are commonly caused by inflamed lymph nodes. These types of masses can occur anywhere on the neck. In severe cases, these masses can turn into a neck abscess. Signs of a neck mass due to infection include a red and tender mass on the neck.
Neck Masses Due to Cancer
Neck masses that are associated with cancer are often caused by the spread of cancer in another location, such as the throat, tonsils, lungs etc. The only exception is lymphoma, which can occur anywhere. The first step is to locate the cancer, which may include an endoscopy, and MRI/CT, bloodwork etc. A biopsy will be required for diagnosis.
If you are concerned about a lump in your neck, contact Tuscaloosa ENT today. We will work to determine the cause for your neck mass, as well as determine the best form of treatment for your case.