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Otolaryngology (ENT)/Head and Neck Surgery
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- Ear Conditions & Treatment
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- Head/Neck Conditions & Treatment
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- When to Make an Appointment
A neck mass is a lump, bump or swelling in the neck and are common in children. Generally, neck masses in children fall into one of three categories: congenital (present at birth), inflammatory (fighting an infection) or neoplastic (mass of tissue). Most neck masses in children are benign or non-cancerous.
Neck masses in children can be caused by the following:
- Cancer, but rarely
- Occasional hormone defects
- Problems forming the structures of the neck during early stages of development in the womb
Congenital neck masses
The most common types of congenital neck masses, or masses present at birth can include:
- Branchial cleft cysts — can be cysts that form when structures of the neck fail to form normally. They can form on either or both sides of the neck and are at risk to become infected repeatedly.
- Dermoid cysts — pockets or sacs under the skin that contain tissues normally present in the skin. They can occur at birth, infancy or later and are at risk to become infected.
- Fibromatosis colli — a benign, non-cancerous mass inside the large angled muscles on both sides of the neck. This is the most common neck mass in infants and can be treated with physical therapy.
- Thyroglossal duct cysts (TGDCs) — neck masses with mucus-like fluid and often are connected to the deep part of the tongue, middle of the neck, thyroid. Treatment normally involves surgery.
Inflammatory neck masses
Common inflammatory or neck masses caused by infections include but are not limited to:
- Lymphadenitis — Occurs when lymph nodes become enlarged in response to bacteria or viral infections. Lymphadenitis is the most common cause of neck masses in children and are treated with the clearing of the infection or treatment of the bacterial infection.
- Sialadenitis — the infection of salivary glands in children. Occurs when viruses and bacteria cause the salivary glands under the chin or in the cheek to swell and ache.
Neoplastic neck masses
Fortunately, neoplasms or tumors of the head and neck are rate in children. These types of neck masses may arise from cancers of the lymph nodes (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas), from the muscles and soft tissues of the neck, or from the endocrine or salivary glands of the neck.
Treatment of your child’s neck mass will depend on the type of neck mass that is present. ENT specialists may decide to observe the mass while other types may need further testing and surgery.
If you suspect your child has a neck mass call us for more information or to schedule an appointment. No referral is necessary.