What is a Neck Mass?
A neck mass refers to an abnormal lump in the neck. There are many types of neck masses. They may appear large enough to be visible and touch or small enough to be noticed barely. Some neck lumps can indicate an infection, while others could indicate something more serious like cancer.
Symptoms of Neck Mass
You should contact your healthcare provider if the lump persists for more than two to three weeks. This is known as a persistent neck mass. If you are unsure how long the lump has been present, your ENT physician should be consulted.
A mass in the neck could indicate a severe medical condition and should be evaluated by an ENT doctor. Your healthcare provider should evaluate the mass to determine if it is cancerous or malignant.
Make sure your neck mass is gone completely. Follow the instructions of your doctor and have any necessary tests done. For any changes in your neck mass, check it out. If you have any questions or concerns, keep your doctor informed.
Patients with neck masses that are associated with higher cancer risk (cancer) have the following symptoms:
- The mass can last longer than 2 to 3 weeks
- The lump grows larger
- The mass shrinks but doesn’t disappear completely
- Voice changes
- Trouble swallowing
- Neck or throat pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
Long-term tobacco smoking (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or snuff) and alcohol consumption are the most common causes of cancers of the tongue, throat, voice box, mouth, and throat. A human papillomavirus infection (HPV), which is often transmitted sexually, is another risk factor for neck, throat, and mouth cancers. Oral HPV is a form of HPV that can be found in the throat and mouth. Head and neck cancers can be caused by high-risk oral HPV infection.
The increase in HV infections has led to an increase in cancer of the oropharynx (or tonsils) and the base of the tongue. HPV-related cancers are more common in younger people and do not have the same risk factors as smoking and drinking. Although patients with HPV-positive cervical squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), may have some symptoms, a mass in the neck is often the only sign of this form of cancer.
Causes of a Neck Mass
Neck massess are common in adults and can develop from a variety of sources. Viral or bacterial infections may lead to an quick growth in a mass. Strep throat is the most common example. Other masses such as thyroid nodules or a goiter may also lead to a growth.
There are benign and malignant tumors that grown in the lymph nodes of the neck, salivary glands, thyroid, and skin.