What Causes a Mass in the Neck?

Discovering a lump in your neck can be jarring. Your first instinct is likely to panic, but don’t do that just yet — most neck masses are benign, or noncancerous. That being said, it’s important to have the mass checked out by your doctor in order to determine the underlying issue. Dr. Vandana Kumra at ENT New York, specializes in diagnosing and treating neck problems. And because there are so many things that can cause neck masses, and we’ve highlighted the main culprits here.

Common causes

The most common cause of a neck mass is enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small glands located throughout your body, including your neck, that help your body attack cancer cells and fight off infection. When an infection is present, your lymph nodes spring into action, and swell during the process. Some common causes of swollen lymph nodes include:


Cysts are another common cause of neck masses. They can appear in or under your skin, and are usually slow-growing and painless. Removal of the cyst is only necessary if it becomes painful, infected, or ruptured, however, some people opt to remove it for cosmetic reasons.

Other causes

While most neck masses are benign, as you get older, cancer becomes more of a possibility. Various types of cancer can cause neck masses, including:

Problems present in the salivary glands can also cause neck masses, including infections, tumors, and stones. Most salivary tumors are benign and removed with surgery. Salivary stones can be passed using conservative methods, like sucking on a lemon, or removed by Dr. Kumra via massage or minimally invasive surgery.

Infections that can cause neck masses include:

Autoimmune diseases, goiter, thyroid nodules, branchial cleft cysts, lipomas, torticollis, and injury can all cause neck masses as well.

It’s important to get any neck masses checked out by your doctor right away. If the cause is something sinister, like cancer, a timely diagnosis could make all the difference. 

During your appointment, Dr. Kumra performs a thorough examination to determine the cause of the mass. This may include procedures such as an endoscopy, biopsy, and/or diagnostic imaging. Once discovered, Dr. Kumra recommends the best course of action for you based on the severity and type of mass. 

Don’t wait —— give our New York, New York, office a call, or book an appointment online today.

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