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You may be surprised and upset to find a bump on your neck that you have never noticed before. The good news is that neck tumors are common and usually harmless. They can vary in size and texture and are usually not cancerous.

But there are several types of lumps that can be symptoms of more serious conditions that cannot be detected by a simple home inspection.

If you notice a lump in your neck, it’s a good idea to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist like our team at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates. You probably have nothing to worry about, and as with many health problems, early detection and treatment provide the best prognosis.

Today we’ll discuss the most common causes of neck lumps, but if you have any questions or concerns, please call us to schedule an appointment with a Lawrence Otolaryngologist at one of our three offices.

Enlarged lymph nodes
Whenever your body gets an infection, your lymph nodes can swell because they are filter tissues that store white blood cells that are needed to fight infection. They also store dead cells and bacteria that need to be removed from the body. Lymph nodes can be lumped on either side of the neck, but are also found in the armpits, under the chin, in the groin, and above the collarbone.

Thyroid nodule
A fluid-filled or solid thyroid nodule is usually harmless, but may indicate an autoimmune disease or cancer. In addition to neck swelling, thyroid nodules can cause coughing and difficulty swallowing. Your voice may become hoarse and your neck and throat may hurt.

Infectious mononucleosis

A viral disease that usually affects high school and college-age adults, mononucleosis can cause swelling in the neck due to swollen lymph nodes, and symptoms similar to thyroid nodules. In addition, there may be headaches and general fatigue. Body aches and night sweats are common symptoms.

The mumps virus is highly contagious and is spread through mucus, saliva, and close contact with infected people. The salivary glands swell and cause pain due to increased pressure, usually felt in the back of the cheek. Symptoms may include fatigue, aches and pains, fever, headache, and loss of appetite.

The neck is a common site for lipomas. These are deposits of fatty tissue that can occur at any age, but usually do not affect children. Lipomas are usually painless and do not cause other problems. But because the cancer, called liposarcoma, looks like a lipoma, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm that the tumor is benign.

Skin and other cancers can cause lumps in the neck. Certain types of skin cancer often cause different colored growths. Cancers of the throat and thyroid can develop under the surface of the skin and push out, causing difficulty in swallowing and breathing in some cases.

There are many other causes of lumps in your neck. For diagnosis and treatment, you can call one of our three offices to make an appointment.

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