Head and neck masses can develop for a number of reasons, ranging from a simple cyst to cancer.
The most common neck mass is caused by enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes can become enlarged because of a viral infection, bacterial infection or an infection located somewhere else in the body. A viral infection, such as that of the common cold, will cause soft non-tender masses to form. The lymph nodes will return to normal once the infection has run its course. A bacterial infection will lead to tender masses. An infection of the body, such as mononucleosis, human immunodeficiency virus or tuberculosis will cause multiple lymph nodes to become enlarged throughout the body.
Hard, non-painful masses are usually associated with cancer. While anyone can develop cancerous growths, they are more common in the older population. Typically, this type of cancer spreads to the head and neck from the mouth or throat.
Contrary to cancers, which are more common in older people, cysts are common in the younger population. These painless masses are hollow and full of fluid.
In order to determine the cause of your head or neck mass, your doctor will need to review your medical history and complete a physical exam. They will examine the mass itself, looking to see if it is hard or soft. They will also check to see if there are sores or growths in your mouth and if you are experiencing any trouble swallowing or hoarseness.
Many of these lumps will go away on their own. If they don’t, a blood test, chest X-ray and a biopsy of the mass may be required.
Since head and neck masses can range from simple cysts to cancerous growths it is important to have them examined as soon as possible. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.