You or your child may notice a lump on your child’s neck. You may only be able to feel it, but sometimes you can see it too. If it isn't painful, it usually goes away quickly, even before you see a doctor.
The most common cause of neck lumps is:
Lymph nodes are small clumps of tissue that are part of the lymphatic system Overview of the Lymphatic System The lymphatic system is a network of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes that carry fluid called lymph. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system, which helps defend against infection... read more and help fight off infections. You usually don’t notice lymph nodes unless they’re swollen. People sometimes call these "swollen glands," but lymph nodes aren't glands.
Common causes of swollen lymph nodes include:
HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and AIDS The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus. It causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is life-threatening. HIV is called an immunodeficiency... read more or tuberculosis (TB) Tuberculosis (TB) Tuberculosis (TB) is a common, serious infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB affects millions of people worldwide, particularly in developing countries TB is spread... read more infection (rare)
Less common causes of neck lumps are:
A cyst (a fluid-filled sac)
Swelling in the glands under the tongue that make saliva
A cancer such as lymphoma Overview of Lymphoma Lymphomas are cancers of lymphocytes, which reside in the lymphatic system and in blood-forming organs. Lymphomas are cancers of a specific type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes. These... read more , leukemia Overview of Leukemia Leukemias are cancers of white blood cells or of cells that develop into white blood cells. White blood cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow. Sometimes the development goes awry... read more , or thyroid cancer Thyroid Cancer Your thyroid is a gland below the Adam’s apple in your neck. Your thyroid releases thyroid hormones. The hormones control how fast your body’s chemical functions work (metabolic rate). Almost... read more (cancer is rare in children)
If your child has had a neck lump for several weeks, your child's doctor may:
If these tests don't give a clear answer, doctors may:
A biopsy involves removing a small piece of tissue with a needle. Doctors then look at the tissue under a microscope.