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Overview of Neck Masses

What are neck masses?

Neck masses are common problems in infants and children. Some neck masses are congenital (present at birth) and result from abnormal formation during embryonic development. Many neck masses appear with an upper respiratory infection such as a cold or sinus infection. Some are not found until they become enlarged and painful from infection. Although a neck mass can involve other structures in the head and neck area, most are benign (noncancerous). Cancerous neck masses are rare in young infants and children, but occasionally a mass is diagnosed as Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin disease—both cancers of the lymphatic system.

Your child's health care provider will consider many factors when diagnosing a neck mass, including the following:

  • The age of child

  • How long the mass has been present, and whether other masses are present

  • Family history of masses

  • Any prior or ongoing illnesses, ear infections, and/or animal bites

Examination of neck masses may include the following:

  • Carefully looking at and feeling the child's neck

  • Identifying the specific location of the mass

  • Checking for movement of the neck and the mass itself

  • Observing for swelling, redness, warmth, tenderness, drainage, or fluid in the mass

Further tests may be needed to completely diagnose the type of neck mass and whether other tissues and structures in the neck are involved. Treating neck masses depends on the type of mass and whether there is infection. Often, surgical removal of the mass is needed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Akin, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 9/6/2014
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

404 - Page not Found.

The page you are looking for may have moved or no longer exists. Please use our feedback form to report this page as missing.

To find the correct web page, please try to access our most popular pages using the links below, or search by keyword.

Popular Pages 

Contact Us

For general inquiries, please call the main number at 202-476-5000.

Thank you for visiting and sorry again for the inconvenience.

Children's National in Your Neighborhood

A location marker

Did you know Children’s National has more than 50 locations throughout the region? Find one that’s convenient for your family.

Find a Children's Location Near You