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Children and young adults presenting with a neck lump of short duration usually have a history suggestive of a preceding throat infection or viral illness. It is not unusual for lymph glands in the neck to become quite enlarged following a viral infection but that normally resolve spontaneously.

Adults with a persistent unexplained neck lump require a thorough evaluation, investigation and referral to an ENT, Head and Neck surgeon for comprehensive assessment.

Neck Lumps are classified into several categories including:


Vascular malformation
Branchial cyst
Thyroglossal cyst
Plunging ranula

Inflammatory neck lumps

Viral lymphadenitis (e.g. glandular fever)
Bacterial lymphadenitis (e.g. secondary to strep throat or acute tonsillitis)
Salivary gland inflammation

Tumours (Neoplasms)

Examples of benign neck lumps include:
Thyroid nodule
Salivary gland tumour

Examples of malignant neck lumps include:

  • Thyroid cancer
  • Salivary gland cancers
  • Metastatic cancer to a cervical lymph node – The primary tumour may be located anywhere in the upper aerodigestive tract or alternatively may be located in the skin. E.g. skin cancer

Please see Dr Bova’s article, published in Medicine Today, on Neck Lumps for further information.

Dr Bova’s article, published in Medicine Today, on Neck Lumps: Download Article