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With review and feedback from CEENTA Otolaryngologist Zachary Cappello, MD (SouthPark)

A lump on you or your child’s neck can be an unsettling discovery. What are these neck masses, and how can they be treated?

What is a neck mass?

Neck masses are abnormal lumps in the neck. They can be any size and are common in infants, children, and adults.

What causes neck masses?

Neck masses are often caused by an infection, such as an ear or sinus infection, strep throat, a dental infection, goiter, or the mumps. Neck masses can also be caused by benign or malignant growths. The malignant growths are often caused by head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, but can also be a sign of lymphoma, thyroid cancer, salivary gland cancer, or a cancer that has metastasized from elsewhere in the body.

Signs that a neck mass might be cancerous include the mass lasting longer than two to three weeks, if the mass grows, if it gets smaller but doesn’t completely go away, you experience voice changes, you have trouble or pain with swallowing, you have ear pain or hearing difficulty on the same side as the neck mass, if you have neck or throat pain, if you have unexplained weight loss, or you have a fever of more than 101 degrees.

Some children are born with neck masses. Those are usually caused by thryoglossal duct cysts. Other cysts or infections can trigger neck masses in children. Only rarely are they cancerous in babies and children.

How are neck masses treated?

Neck masses caused by an infection usually go away once the infection clears up. Treatment may require medicines that address the infection itself, though. Cystic or benign neck masses will likely need to be removed by a doctor. Cancerous neck masses will need more advanced treatment, including radiation or chemotherapy and surgery.

A diagnosis from your doctor is needed before a treatment plan can be developed.

Zachary Cappello, MD

“If you notice a neck mass that has any worrisome symptoms prompt evaluation by an ENT is recommended to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment of the issue,” CEENTA ENT doctor Zachary Cappello, MD, said. “Delays in treatment can often lead to a worse prognosis.”

If you have any concerns about a mass on your neck, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at CEENTA.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Cappello? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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