ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have a swollen, red lump on my jaw for years?

Question

Why do I have a swollen, red lump on my jaw for years?

I am 25 year old male living in the desert with a desk job. I've had the lump on my jaw for about 5 years now. It does not hurt. I does not feel hard. It does not grow hair. I smoked for almost 10 years and drank occasionally. I take no prescription medications and seem healthy in every other aspects. I haven't had my wisdom molars removed and they have all come in. My teeth don't feel sensitive neither does the affected area. Could it be cancer? Should I see a dermatologist?

Answer

There are several things that can cause painless lumps in various parts of your body, and some of these can be serious while others are not. A very common reason is an epidermal inclusion cyst, in which your body walls off a small pocket of infected material (such as a pimple) and then shields your body from the infection. These persist indefinitely without being treated, and can be firm and red. Alternatively, they can readily be removed in your doctor's office, although if it is on your face you might want to have it removed by an ear-nose-and throat surgeon (aka otolaryngologist), dermatologist, or plastic surgeon that works on the face so that you can have the best cosmetic outcome. Another possible explanation for a swelling on your jaw can be a lipoma, which is a small, fatty collection of tissue that many people will have with no other symptoms, although they can appear on other areas of the body. These are usually soft, however, and are not often red. It can also be readily removed. While there are many other things that it could be, I would recommend speaking to your doctor about this mass, as any mass should be treated cautiously as it could be something serious.

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