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Common reasons for a lump in the neck

  • Swollen lymph nodes due to infection
  • Viruses, like HIV, herpes, rubella, mono and pharyngitis
  • Thyroid disorders and diseases
  • Bacterial infection, like strep throat, tonsillitis and tuberculosis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain cancers
  • Injury

More rarely, your neck lump can be a sign of an allergic reaction or a salivary duct stone.

Quick fact

At SFENTA, we have found that the vast majority of neck masses and lumps are not due to malignancy or another serious condition – they are enlarged lymph nodes. When you are sick or fighting an infection, these nodes swell to protect your body and attack harmful cells.

Found a lump - Is it cancer?

Upon finding a lump or mass, many people immediately fear cancer. Although it is possible for a neck lump to be cancerous, fortunately, most are benign.

With that said, as adults age the chances of a lump being cancerous increases. Your risk further increases with a history of prolonged tobacco and alcohol use, HPV infection and other lifestyle choices.

Cancers that can show up as a lump in the neck include:

Head and neck cancer

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Hodgkin’s lymphoma


Lung cancer

Skin cancer

Throat cancer

Breast cancer

What to expect at your appointment

After asking about your symptoms and lifestyle, your SFENTA doctor will carefully examine your head, neck, ears and throat looking for related symptoms. Depending on the findings, the following tests may be ordered:

  • Chest and sinus x-rays
  • Neck ultrasound
  • MRI of the head and neck
  • CBC (complete blood count) test

Contact SFENTA Today

A neck mass or lump has many causes and requires prompt evaluation by an ear, nose and throat doctor. Contact SFENTA today to schedule an appointment.

- Most insurance plans accepted -

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