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HealthInfo Canterbury

Neck lumps

Many things can cause lumps in your neck, and lymph nodes are one of the common causes. Lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system, which fights infection, so they may be swollen if you have an infection. If your lymph nodes are swollen because of an infection, they will usually get better in a couple of weeks, once the infection has cleared up.

Your thyroid gland or salivary glands can also cause lumps in your neck. If you find a new neck lump, it is sensible to get it checked by your doctor. This is more urgent if the lump feels hard, is growing, or doesn't go away after three weeks.

It is much less common for cancers to cause lumps in your neck or lymph nodes. However, you should see a doctor if you have a neck lump or lumps and:

Sometimes your GP will suggest a specialist checks your neck lump. Sometimes people need more tests, such as a fine needle aspiration (FNA). This takes a sample of cells, but not as many as a biopsy. Your doctor may also recommend a blood test or an ultrasound.

The treatment for the neck lump will depend on what's causing it. It could involve treating an infection, or surgery to remove the lump.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Otolaryngology, Canterbury DHB. Page created December 2015.

See also:

Leukaemia and lymphoma

Neck lymph node dissection

Thyroid nodules


Page reference: 171608

Review key: HINKLP-171608