Read below about neck lump, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your neck lump from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Neck Lump Symptoms

When many of us think of neck issues, pain and discomfort are the first things that pop into mind. Neck lumps, however, may not be painful, but certainly warrant attention once noticed. "Lump" is an all-too-common medical term these days. The connotation of the word is almost always negative and frequently associated with cancer. While the presence of a neck lump is not an immediate cause for panic, understanding and monitoring the symptoms will help dictate the path forward.

Symptoms of neck lumps include:

One of the most important tasks performed by the neck is linking the head to the rest of the body through muscles and vessels. In addition, the neck houses critical components for breathing, speaking and eating. The glands, nodes, and muscles can all develop a lump, and while the lump itself might be noticeable, the underlying cause may not be as clear.

Neck Lump Causes Overview

Cancer always comes to mind when lumps are discussed. The good news is that, most commonly, a neck lump in an adult is not caused by cancer. That is not to say that the importance of a neck lump should ever be overlooked. A wide range of causes exist, and many require treatment to ensure proper healing.

Systemic disease causes:

  • Tumors: Whether cancerous or not, growths in the neck result in neck lumps. The majority of neck lumps are not cancerous and are caused by conditions such as tonsillitis or are cysts or benign lipomas.
  • Nodules: Nodules are another form of abnormal growth, typically on the thyroid gland. The thyroid is located just below the Adam's apple and can show lumps from nodules or cancer.
  • Viruses: Cold viruses affect the upper respiratory system, including components of the neck. Lymph nodes can swell as they fight the virus (lymphadenopathy).

Inflammatory causes:

  • Infections: Bacterial or viral infections can result in inflammation and neck lump symptoms. Glands (lymph nodes), such as the salivary glands, commonly produce such lumps when infected. Infections may develop from instances as minor as an insect bite or small cut.

Environmental causes:

  • Allergies: An allergic reaction occurs when the body overcompensates to defend itself from what it believes to be a harmful substance. Swelling of the lymph nodes, which results in neck lump symptoms, is a potential side effect of an allergic reaction.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Neck Lump

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced neck lump. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Skin Cyst

    An epidermoid cyst is a closed sac under the skin filled with a cheese-like or oily material. It is caused by trauma or surgery.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored armpit bump, marble sized armpit lump, small armpit lump
    Symptoms that always occur with skin cyst:
    skin-colored armpit bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Lipoma

    A lipoma is a noncancerous growth of fatty tissue cells. A lipoma can develop in almost any organ of the body although they are most commonly found in the subcutaneous layer just below the skin.

    Resolves with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    skin-colored groin bump, marble sized groin lump, small groin lump
    Symptoms that always occur with lipoma:
    skin-colored groin bump
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch
  3. 3.Sarcoidosis

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most often affects the lungs and skin, but can als affect the joints.

    This condition has a broad range of severity. It often goes away on its own over time but some cases can cause permanent damage.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Enlarged Lymph Nodes in the Neck

    Enlarged lymph nodes occur when the node becomes larger as it fills with inflammatory cells. This often is a result of an infection but can occur without a known cause.

    Enlarged lymph nodes should go away within a week or two.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    neck bump, movable neck lump
    Symptoms that always occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the neck:
    neck bump
    Symptoms that never occur with enlarged lymph nodes in the neck:
    unintentional weight loss, fever, hard neck lump
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

    Neck Lump Checker

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    Neck Lump Quiz
  5. 5.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer. Skin cancer falls into two major groups: Non-melanoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    facial skin changes, pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painless facial bump, growing facial lump
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Pimple

    Acne, also known as pimples, occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil & dead skin cells. Acne is extremely common and ranges from mild to severe.

    The severity of the acne dictates treatment-type and duration. With proper treatment, acne should resolve in weeks to months. In some cases, acne is a long-term condition.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump
    Symptoms that always occur with pimple:
    pink or red facial bump
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  8. 8.Head and Neck Cancer

    There are five main types of head and neck cancer, which are all named according to the part of the body where they develop: laryngeal (voice box), nasal cavity and sinus, nasopharyngeal (air passage way behind the nose), oral (mouth), and salivary gland cancers. Most of these cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), meaning they begin in the flat (squamous) cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in the head and neck.

    Head and neck cancers span different types of cancer with variable prognosis so a consultation with an oncologist is required to determine outlook.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, hoarse voice, neck bump, ear canal pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Symptoms generally resolve within 3-4 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Neck Lump Treatments and Relief

To reiterate, neck lumps are usually not cancerous. That being said, a neck lump should always be taken seriously. A call to your doctor is always recommended when a neck lump is discovered.

In particular, it is important to set up an appointment with a medical professional for any of the following:

  • Abnormal swelling/lumps
  • Painful lumps
  • Existing lumps that change in shape, size, or feel

Your doctor will recommend the best course of action to treat a neck lump. After a thorough examination, the proper course may involve monitoring of the lump or more extensive diagnostic testing and treatment. Common treatments for neck lump symptoms are as follows:

Professional treatments:

  • Surgery: If the neck lump is potentially harmful, it will likely require removal through surgical procedures.
  • Medications: Antibiotics could be prescribed by your doctor to treat infection and reduce the swelling. Medications may also be prescribed to limit the symptoms of severe forms of allergies.
  • Cancer Treatments: If the neck lump is cancerous, your team of medical professionals may recommend treatments such as radioactive iodine, external beam-radiation, or targeted treatments specially designed to treat certain forms of cancer. A biopsy of the neck lump will likely precede such treatments.
  • Observation: Some form of preliminary testing will likely be performed to determine the importance of a neck lump. If these tests are negative, then your doctor may recommend recurring visits to monitor the neck lump for changes.

Neck lumps signal a change in physiology and warrant attention. When gauging concern over a new neck lump be sure to consider your overall health. An ongoing illness, like a cold, or a recent troublesome wound that won't heal properly could be the cause of the neck lump symptoms. It may be unlikely that the lump signals cancer, but it is possible. Always consult your doctor to ensure proper treatment and peace of mind.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Neck Lump

  • Q.What color is the bump?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you feel pain when you touch the bump?
  • Q.Is the bump hard or soft?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our neck lump symptom checker to find out more.

Neck Lump Quiz

Neck Lump Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced neck lump have also experienced:

    • 6% Neck Pain on One Side
    • 4% Headache
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced neck lump had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Less Than a Week
    • 31% Over a Month
    • 16% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced neck lump were most often matched with:

    • 100% Sarcoidosis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having neck lump

Neck Lump Quiz