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Neck Lumps - Symptoms

Neck Lumps - How to prevent?

Neck Lumps - Causes and Risk Factors

There are many causes of lumps/ swellings in the neck. Below are some of the more common causes.

Lymph nodes and thyroid nodules are some of the causes of lumps/swellings in the neck.
  1. Lymph Nodes
    There are many causes for lymph nodes in the neck to be enlarged, but one of the most common causes is due to infection. Lymph nodes may be enlarged due to acute infections such as upper respiratory tract infection, skin infections, ear infections. They can also be enlarged due to chronic infections such as tuberculosis.
    Sometimes an enlarged lymph node in the neck can also be the first sign of underlying cancer. Certain cancers (e.g. nasopharyngeal cancers, melanoma, oral cancers) tend to spread to lymph nodes and an enlarged lymph node can sometimes be the first sign of underlying cancer. Some cancers like lymphoma also first develop in lymph nodes.
  2. Thyroid Nodules
    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control and regulate the growth and rate of function of many systems in the body. The thyroid gland can sometimes develop solid or fluidfilled lumps.
    Although most of these lumps are not cancerous lumps, a small proportion of them will be cancerous. Some of these lumps may also cause problems when they grow larger and compress on other structures in the neck causing swallowing and breathing difficulties.
    Some of these lumps may also secrete too much thyroid hormone that may cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
    It is important to see a doctor to evaluate these lumps, as it is not easy to tell which lumps need treatment without doing proper investigations.
  3. Skin and Subcutaneous Lumps
    Lumps in the neck can also arise from the skin or just below the skin. Most of these lumps are not cancerous and do not cause symptoms. However a small proportion of these lumps can occasionally turn out to be cancerous. Worrying signs include:
    • Change in size of a lump
    • Change in colour of surface of the lump
    • Bleeding
    • Other lumps appearing around the lump
    • Enlarged lymph nodes
    It is important to seek a medical opinion if you have any of these symptoms.

  4. Salivary Gland Enlargement
    Salivary glands are organs in the neck that secrete saliva, which helps us digest our food. These glands can sometimes become enlarged for various reasons that include tumours, infection or secondary to an underlying medical condition.
  5. Thyroglossal Cysts/Branchial Cysts
    These are lumps/cysts that occur during the body’s development. Although present at birth, they may only enlarge and be discovered later on in life. These lumps/ cysts should usually be removed surgically to prevent complications.

Neck Lumps - Preparing for surgery

Neck Lumps - Post-surgery care

Neck Lumps - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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