If you discover a lump in your neck, it’s natural to be concerned about what it could be and what kind of doctor to see. While most neck lumps are benign, meaning they are not cancerous, it’s still essential to get them checked out by a healthcare professional. In this article, we will discuss the possible causes of lumps in the neck, what type of doctor to see for neck lumps, and how they are typically treated.
What causes lumps in the neck?
A neck lump can be caused by various factors, including infections, inflammation, tumours, or even normal structures such as lymph nodes or the thyroid gland. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures located throughout the body that help fight off infections. When they become enlarged, it’s usually a sign of an infection or inflammation in the body. Infections that can cause swollen lymph nodes in the neck include strep throat, mononucleosis, or even an infected tooth.
Another common cause of neck lumps is an enlarged thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck that produces hormones that regulate metabolism. An enlarged thyroid gland can cause a lump in the front of the neck and may be associated with symptoms such as weight changes, fatigue, or difficulty swallowing.
Less commonly, neck lumps can be caused by tumours. These can be benign or cancerous and may originate from various structures in the neck, including the lymph nodes, salivary glands, or thyroid gland. Cancerous lumps are usually painless and may be associated with other symptoms such as weight loss, night sweats, or persistent cough.
What doctor to see for a lump in the neck?
If you notice a lump in your neck, the first healthcare professional to see is usually your general practitioner. They can perform a physical exam and may sometimes request scans, to help identify the cause of the lump. Depending on the suspected cause, they may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
For lumps related to the thyroid gland, an endocrine/ENT surgeon is usually the specialist to see. Endocrine/ENT surgeons investigate and treat lumps arising from endocrine glands. They can perform additional tests, such as a biopsy, to determine if the lump is cancerous or not.
For lumps related to the lymph nodes or salivary glands, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor, also known as an otolaryngologist, is typically the specialist to see. ENT doctors specialise in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the head and neck, including neck lumps. They can perform a biopsy, remove the lump, or refer you to an oncologist for cancer treatment if necessary.
How are neck lumps treated?
The treatment of neck lumps depends on the underlying cause. Infections are usually treated with antibiotics or antiviral medication, depending on the specific infection. Enlarged thyroid glands may require hormone replacement therapy or, in some cases, surgery to remove the gland. Benign tumours may be removed surgically, while cancerous tumours require more aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.
If you’re concerned about a lump in your neck, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. Mr. Wale Olarinde is an experienced ENT doctor who can provide personalised treatment plans for his patients. He has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the head and neck, including neck lumps.
If you’re worried about a lump in your neck, book a consultation with Mr. Olarinde to get the care and reassurance you need.