A palpable neck lump in any patient should raise some concern. In the case of a pediatric patient, the concern may be less, since reactive and infectious nodes in the neck can be fairly common in children. When a child has a bad episode of pharyngitis, tonsillitis (sore throat), or even a bad cold, the lymph nodes of the neck may react and become enlarged. In that type of scenario, your doctor should prescribe appropriate antibiotics to resolve the enlarged lymph nodes and follow up to make sure that the nodes have regressed.
Very few pediatric neck masses will end up being concerning. Besides infectious neck lymph nodes as stated above, some of the other more common causes of pediatric neck mass are congenital cysts. However, none of the pediatric neck masses should be ignored. A neck lump that persists for more than a few days should be looked at by a pediatrician.
In the adult population, a neck mass or lump can be much more concerning. Essentially when an adult patient presents to us with a neck mass, we have to fine the root cause and basically rule out a tumor. Of course, infectious lymph nodes do happen in the adult patients as well, but it is less common. Congenital cysts are also much less common in the adult patient.
The more common causes of a neck mass in the adult patient are ....