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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lymphoma

Question: Lumps found behind ear, back of head, and neck

 mleydeck - Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:48 pm

I am a 20 year old female, and for the past 4 years I have had several painless lumps around my head and neck area that have not gone away. I have had them checked out multiple times, but mostly by pediatricians who said they were nothing to be concered about. I have one on the right side of my neck that fluctuates in size and moves around a little; it is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter right now. I also have one behind my ear which is hard and only a couple centimeters in diameter. Additionally, I have one on the back of my head, left from center and about 1/4 of an inch in diameter, which is also hard. I am currently on Ortho-tricyclen Lo and wonder if this has something to do with it. I also get headaches quite often, some of which are migraines. I am currently seeing a cardiologist because of some pressure that I have felt on my chest, shortness of breath, and dizziness. I am wondering if any of these could be related. I know this is a long question, so thank you so much for your time.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Fri Mar 03, 2006 8:57 am

User avatar Hi mleydeck,
Generally speaking, lymph nodes that fluctuate in size typically indicate an inflammatory or infections process. The jugular lymph nodes lie both on top of and beneath the sternocleidomastoid muscles (SCM) on either side of the neck, from the angle of the jaw to the top of the clavicle. They drain the tongue, tonsil, pinna, parotid. Common causes of enlargement include pharyngitis organisms, rubella. The postauricular lymph nodes are located behind the ears. They drain the external auditory meatus, pinna, scalp. Common causes of enlargement include local infection. The suboccipital lymph node is located at the junction between the back of the head and neck. It drains the scalp and head. Common causes of enlargement also include local infection. Consistency of lymph nodes are important. Stony-hard nodes are typically a sign of cancer, usually metastatic. Very firm, rubbery nodes suggest lymphoma. Softer nodes are the result of infections or inflammatory conditions. Again suppurant nodes may be fluctuant (waver in size). The term "shotty" refers to small nodes that feel like buckshot under the skin, as found in the cervical nodes of children with viral illnesses. Constitutional symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue or night sweats could suggest disorders such as tuberculosis, lymphoma, collagen vascular diseases, unrecognized infection or malignancy. The presence of fever is commonly associated with infections. Sometimes, following infection lymph nodes occasionally remain permanently enlarged, though they should be non-tender, small (less the 1 cm), have a rubbery consistency and none of the characteristics described for malignancy or for infection. An increase in nodal size on serial examinations is significant. Essentially, if lymph nodes continue to enlarge despite treatment with antibiotic therapy or present with continued enlargement upon serial examinations this would be a significant finding. The cardiologist should be able to determine chest pressure, shortness of breath, and dizziness are of a cardiac origin or related to the use of the birth control medication. I hope this information is helpful.
Theresa Jones, RN

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