Lumps / Swellings  

A common presenting symptom is of noticing a lump in the neck. Due to the complicated nature of the anatomy of the neck (see Head and Neck Structure and Function) there are numerous possible structures that a lump could arise from. The lump could be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).


To make educated clinical diagnoses a thorough examination is essential. The first thing you will usually have during a physical examination is palpation of the neck. An experienced specialist hands will often be able to significantly narrow down the possible causes. The rest of the head neck and throat will also be examined.  Frequently a fibreoptic endoscopy of the nose and throat will be required at the time of the examination. This is often essential as a lump in the neck may be a sign of an under lying problem inside the throat. The procedure takes only a few minutes with the minimum of discomfort. Further diagnostic tests may include ultrasound scanning, CT scanning, biopsy or fine needle aspiration (FNA), and blood tests.