Neck Tumors (Lumps or Cysts)
There are many causes of lumps in the neck. The most frequently seen lumps or swellings are enlarged lymph nodes. These can be caused by bacteria or viral infections, cancer (malignancy), or other rare causes. Enlargement of the salivary glands under the jaw may be caused by infection or cancer. Lumps in the muscles of the neck — almost always in the front of the neck — are caused by injury. Lumps in the skin or just below the skin are often caused by cysts, including sebaceous cysts. The thyroid gland may also produce a lump, multiple lumps, or swelling in the neck as a result of thyroid disease or cancer. Most cancers of the thyroid gland are extremely slow-growing and often curable by surgery, even if they have been present for several years.
Few emergencies pose as great a challenge as neck trauma. Because a multitude of organ systems (eg, airway, vascular, neurological, gastrointestinal) are compressed into a compact conduit, a single penetrating wound is capable of considerable harm. Furthermore, seemingly innocuous wounds may not manifest clear signs or symptoms, and potentially lethal injuries could be easily overlooked or discounted.
Head and neck cancer refers to a group of biologically similar cancers that start in the upper aero digestive tract, including the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose), pharynx, and larynx. 90% of head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (SCCHN),originating from the mucosal lining (epithelium) of these regions. Head and neck cancers often spread to the lymph nodes of the neck, and this is often the first (and sometimes only) sign of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Head and neck cancer is strongly associated with certain environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, UV light, particular chemicals used in certain workplaces, and certain strains of viruses, such as human papillomavirus.