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Date of last update: 8/19/2017.

Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: Hard lump at the back of my neck

 lily_t26 - Sat Oct 30, 2004 4:52 pm


I am a 17-year old female and for the past two years I've noticed a hard, painless lump on the back of my neck. It is about an inch from my right ear, and a centimeter below my head, and it is about 2 centimeters big (shaped much like almond). I asked my father about it (my father was in pre-med for four years and then transfered to dentistry) and he told me it was nothing. So for the next two years, I disregarded the annoying mass. This year, after reading a novel about a dying patient with lymphoma, the unwanted lump re-entered my train of an intesifed degree I might add. So I went to my doctor and asked her about it. She too, told me not to worry. I was fine for a while after, but then I began to search my neck and I found another hard lump less than a centimeter big. I also noticed smaller lumps all about the size of this: O, except they are movoable and not so hard. Now I'm thinking back to what my physician told me, and am worried as to whether or not I understood her correctly. During the same visit, I told my physician about an ear infection that I had had for the past 3 months (more like a year on an off), and I'm afraid she thought the lumps were associated with that infection (I know it can't be since I've had the lumps for at least two years prior to that date).

Last minute facts: I've had some neck pain on and off, though not in that specific area. Neither of the two hard mass have not grown since I first noticed them, and everyone keeps telling me they can't see them (I notice the masses when I look at a double mirror at certain angles). I've no other symptoms, other than the fact that my ear still hurts when I go out in the cold or when it fills with water, which I think is associated with my previous ear infection. Oh, and my worry intesifies as I read more about the symptoms of lymphoma. Should I be worried?
 Carolyn Merritt, LPN - Sun Oct 31, 2004 12:50 am

User avatar Hello:
I am concerned that you say the lumps in your neck have lasted two years. What you are describing sounds like swollen lymph nodes. The most common locations of lymph node swelling are in the neck, groin and underarm, though many other locations are possible.
The cause of swollen lymph nodes in the neck are ear infection, tonsillitis, abscessed or impacted tooth, gingivitis (swelling of the gums), mouth sores, virus, and other infections among other things.

The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system that is part of the immune system. Lymph nodes often swell in response to infection or disease. Sometimes this is somewhat inaccurately called "swollen glands" (lymph nodes are not glands; they do not secrete anything).
Viral throat infections, ear infections and colds can cause lymph nodes in the neck to double in size. Slight enlargement and mild tenderness means the lymph node is fighting the infection and doing a good job.

However when the lymph node is swollen over such a long period of time it needs to be evaluated to determine if the cause is because the infection that originally caused it to swell has not completely ended or there is another reason for the swelling. Whichever is the reason your doctor needs to take a closer and more serious look at the situation. Perhaps if you were to express the fact that you have had it for two years you might get a more concerned response.
I hope this helps.
 lily_t26 - Sun Oct 31, 2004 8:18 pm

Thank you very much for your reply. I will take your advice and make an appointment with my doctor within the next month (I hope one month isn't too long a wait?) Until that time, I was hoping I can bother you with some more information and extra questions. My father told me he had a similar lump when he was younger (19-20 yrs. of age) and he got it removed only for cosmetic reasons. Upon asking him about my own enlarged lymphs, he showed me that he, too, had one on his neck. Is it possible that my problem is hereditary? I said I had the lumps on my neck for a while, but I had only NOTICED them for two years. They might've been there longer. My mother's friend said she had a visible lump on her neck for ten years before she got it removed and found it to be benign. Mine are pretty small and haven't grown, wouldn't that rule out lymphoma?

I'm sorry, I know my questions are likely as not better left to my physician to answer (and I'm sure she will). I'll understand if you can't answer some of them. Thanks again for have been a GREAT help :!:

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