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Head and Neck Cancer

Lump on right side of neck

11/17/2008

Question:

My son of 16 years has a lump on right side of neck which had been there for the past 12 weeks. He was seen by our GP at 12 weeks, and she took blood test as my husband and his father passed away to AML (leukemia). The results were lost. He now has a permanent sore throat, pain in his ears, and a constant headache.

At the most recent visit to the GP she asked about the lump before he’d even advised her of his problem, hence it must be extremely noticeable. She has now rushed a blood test through, and even personally booked him an appointment at our local hospital, which is amazing because you’d be lucky to get an appointment in 6 months let alone a week. Should I be concerned about this? She was confident that it was a cyst. Family members are telling me that it’s something more serious. Please can you confirm if we should be alarmed?

Answer:

A mass in the neck that does not disappear over this amount of time needs to be thoroughly evaluated. This evaluation should consist of a complete ear, nose, and throat evaluation. A CT scan of the neck should also be considered.

The differential diagnosis is vast and includes infections, congenital remnants, and tumors. Sometimes a needle biopsy of the mass can also be performed. Such a biopsy can be helpful in deciding the next course of action. Your son definitely needs to be seen by an otolaryngologist, and you have every right to be alarmed.

For more information:

Go to the Head and Neck Cancer health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University