Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Is the lump on the side of my neck cancer?"
I have a weird lump on the left side of my neck. It is about the size of a popcorn kernel but I can feel it under the skin. It is soft. Is it cancer? What else could it be?
You should probably have this lump looked at by a doctor. Your primary care doctor would be a good place to start, so I suggest that you make an appointment with them. There are several causes of lumps in the neck.
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By far, the most common is a lymph node. Lymph nodes are normal parts of the body's immune system, and many of them are located in the neck. Periodically, they can swell up, especially when they are fighting off an infection (such as a cold or sore throat). Occasionally, lymph nodes can swell or become prominent because of cancer, although in a lymph node that is only the size of a popcorn kernel this would be very rare indeed. Therefore if the lump you are feeling gets larger or persists, your doctor may decide that it needs to be biopsied to rule out this possibility. Another potential cause of a lump in the neck is a cyst under the skin. These often are hard to distinguish for a lymph node but, like lymph nodes, they are generally benign and do not need any treatment. However, again, if your doctor is concerned, they can recommend that the lump be removed to rule out cancer.
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