Head and Neck Mass – Adults

A female patient getting her throat checked by a doctor

A neck mass is an abnormal lump in the neck. Neck lumps or masses can be any size—large enough to see and feel, or they can be very small.

A neck mass may be a sign of an infection, or it may indicate a serious medical condition. It does not necessarily mean you have cancer, but it does mean you may need additional evaluation to receive an accurate diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of a Neck Mass?

Common symptoms in patients with a neck mass at higher risk for cancer (see “What Causes a Neck Mass” below) include:

  • The mass lasts longer than two to three weeks
  • The mass gets larger
  • The mass gets smaller but does not completely go away
  • Voice change
  • Trouble or pain with swallowing
  • Trouble hearing or ear pain on the same side as the neck mass
  • Neck or throat pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nasal blockage in one side of the nose
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Bleeding from nose and oral cavity
  • Coughing up blood
  • Skin lesion on the face or scalp that is growing or changing color

When Should I See a Doctor?

See your doctor and/or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, if the lump in your neck lasts longer than two to three weeks. This is a persistent neck mass, which means that the lump has not gone away. You should also see a doctor if you are not sure how long you have had the neck mass because your neck mass may mean that you have a serious medical problem. If you have any of the head and neck symptoms listed above, in addition to the neck mass, you should see your doctor right away. It may not be cancer, but you need to be evaluated. Your doctor will discuss any tests needed for diagnosing your neck mass and your follow-up care.

Call Rocky Top ENT & Allergy at 931-219-9990 or 865-383-0737 for more information and to schedule an appointment.