Neck Mass Should Be Checked ASAP
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A neck lump can be caused by many factors. If you ever feel one, it is best to visit a doctor for a complete physical checkup so that it can be treated as soon as possible.
Getting to Know a Neck Mass
A mass in the neck is a common condition. Most patients visit a doctor because it is palpable causing worries that it may be something serious. This lump can be anywhere around the neck area.
Types of Neck Mass
Neck mass can be separated into three groups:
- Inflammatory mass is the most common type which can be caused by viral or bacterial infection as well as other types of inflammation that lead to enlarged lymph nodes or salivary glands. This may cause inflammatory responses such as pain, swelling, warmness to touch, combined with history of fast growing mass or history of inflammation in other organs.
- Congenital tumor is commonly found more in children than adults. It may exist since birth or as children grow older.
- Tumor and cancer is common among older people than the first two groups. The lump can grow anywhere around the neck area and is usually larger than inflammatory masses. It will continue to grow and not respond to treatment like inflammatory mass. The enlarged lymph node will be stiffer and tend to attach to nearby organ. Older patients with history of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption should suspect cancer more often.
Examination of Neck Mass
If you discover a lump on your neck, please visit a doctor immediately to get a medical history and physical exam. The doctor will palpate the position of the lump and perform physical check up, particularly the ears, nose, and throat to find signs of correlating condition. If a mass is suspected inside the neck or nose, the doctor will insert an endoscope to further diagnose. Radiodiagnostic procedure, such as ultrasound to find the location, measure the size, and characterize the tissue inside the mass, and fine needle biopsy may be required for a more accurate determination.
Treatment of Neck Mass
Treatment will depend on the cause of the condition:
- If the mass is caused by infection, an antibiotic will be given based on the type of infection.
- If the mass is congenital, it can mostly be removed by surgery similar to benign tumors.
- If the mass is cancer, treatment will depend on the stage of tumor. It can be surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination. Early discovery will result in better treatment outcome and increase the chance of a cure.
Complications from Neck Mass
If the mass is large, it may nestle against nearby organ, such as the respiratory track, the trachea, the esophagus, etc. If it pushes into the trachea, patients may experience difficulty breathing and may lead to mortality. If it burrows into the esophagus, patients may have difficulty swallowing or painful swallow. A mass that presses upon a major nerve, such as the larynx can cause hoarseness, choking, etc. Thus, do not ignore the lump and please visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Many people may wonder if a mass is palpable, but there is no pain associated with it, can they wait before visiting a doctor. We recommend that no matter how it feels or looks, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as the lump is discovered. Early diagnosis and treatment can take care of it sooner. If left untreated, it may be more serious than you think.