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Lump on side of neck
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Lump on side of neck

I have a small lump on my neck, it is on the right side about halfway up. It is quite small, probably not much bigger than a pea and it feels like it is located on the neck muscle (of course I suppose it could be behind it and pushing the muscle, I am not qualified to say but I don’t think so).  I have played sport before and it feels to me exactly like the kind of scar tissue you can get after a pulled muscle.  

I have over recent years ‘ricked’ my neck more than once which could point to it being scar tissue however I honestly cannot remember what side I did this on.  I have also lost some weight recently (2-3 stone which planned so it was not unexpected) so it is possible this has been there for years but has been covered in ‘padding’ and not as easy to feel.    I went to the doctors with it about 6 weeks ago and they were not concerned however whilst I am maybe being unfair the doctor was a newly qualified one and did not fill me with total confidence, nethertheless I took the advice and other than make a note to keep an eye on it have not given it another thought until the last day or 2.  I felt it again, I do not think it has changed in size but it is definitely there and after a few minutes of prodding it I noticed later that the my right ear and right gland area around my throat felt a little sore, nothing major but probably no coincidence and I wondered if it had been irritated by me poking around?

So it is worrying me again, I have recently moved house and have just registered with a new GP but it will be a week to 10 days before I can see a doctor.

Advice appreciated.
27 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
The sore throat turned into an ear ache as the day went on, so maybe I was coming down with something and that is why I felt it again?  

Who knows? still worried and hoping to get a doctors appointment ASAP.
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907672_tn?1381029323
Most doctors don't get too concerned over a small lump unless there are other sympoms you are experiencing that would indicate something more serious.  Pain is not usually associated with malignant lumps and your earache makes me think you maybe are fighting an infection, which can make your lymph nodes swell.  

Keep an eye on it and if it's still there by the time you go see your new GP, you might show it to them.  Sometimes swollen nodes from previous infections can stay swollen and never completely go away.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you.

The ear ache has got worse so I guess I was coming down with something.

My old GP agreed to me see a (different) doctor 1 last time so I went in today.  He said it was not a gland and was not concerned, he said that if I was still worried that he refer me for an ultrasound to put my mind at rest,
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Avatar_m_tn
I have decided to have the ultrasound to put my mind at rest.  It is bothering, probably irrationally but it is nonetheless.

I had lost 3 stone at the point of the first doctors visit and another stone on top of that for the visit this week  (I have gone from 15.5 stone to 11.5 stone and am finished now I think), so as I said maybe it is has been there a long time and is just a far more obvious now I am thinner.

Both doctors said it was not a lymph node which is positive but there is still a lump and I guess any unexplained lump is a worry.  No other symptoms though.

Thanks again
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907672_tn?1381029323
You are very welcome.  I'm not sure what the conversion of stones to pounds is, but I can tell you that weight loss due to cancer is usually pretty significant (10% or more in a 6 month time period).  If you experience that, or persistant fevers or night sweats, than you should definately see your doctor again (and especially if your lump doesn't go away).  

I hope the ultrasound can give you more answers and help put your mind at ease.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, the weight loss was deliberate, I totally changed my diet and started exercising 4-5 times a week.

I guess I would not still be worried if my doctor said 'I'm not concerned because its just a X,Y or Z' but they gave no explanation as to what they thought it was and just said they were not worried.  I suppose I am thinking that they don't really know but as it is small are not worried YET.

Thanks again.
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907672_tn?1381029323
Congratulations on the weight loss...that's great.  

Most likely, if the lump is due to some kind of infection, it will go down on it's own (although not always).  If it doesn't go away on it's own in a few weeks then you might want to see your doctor again (or go see a different doctor).  Although, I'm sure the ultrasound will help shed some light as to what it is.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks.

The one thing both doctors were pretty sure on is that it is not a lymph node, they could of course be wrong.  I would have just been happier if they had offered an explanation as to what they thought it might be.  Given that they both were not concerned I should not be worrying still and yet I am.

It feels to me like a knot on the muscle but what do I know?  I just hope that ultrasound appointment does not take weeks or months to come through.

Thanks again
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Avatar_m_tn
UPDATE

It seems I was right to question my other doctors, yesterday I had my first consult at my new GP surgery and after a far more thorough examination he had a different view to my last GP.  He examined my neck and all of my lymph nodes and said that it WAS an enlarged lymph node.  Of course he could be wrong but I’d be inclined to believe him over the other doctorS.

He said it was just one node that was enlarged and that he was confident it was nothing serious as it was just the one vs several clustered together and also that I have had no other symptoms such as night sweats etc, as it has probably been up for 6 weeks he said he’d need the ultrasound and maybe blood tests to be 100% sure but told me not to lose any sleep as he was pretty sure it was ok.  I don’t know if that was his bedside manner to try and stop me worrying for the next 6-8 weeks but he did seem unconcerned and his views seems consistent with the interweb (I should not have googled it I know but I could not help it)

As I did not even look for the lump in the intervening 6 weeks for all I know it could have gone down and come back up (I did catch a bug off my daughter a couple of weeks ago around the time I noticed it again) but I have to assume it has been there the whole time or maybe even longer.  Me being me as there are tests to be done I am still a little worried but I do feel a little better but do wish I could get the tests rushed through quicker.
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1081992_tn?1389907237
Hi, Neil. When you say "neck muscle" do you mean the sternocleidomastoid?

At this point you have a bump but without a scan it can't be known what it is. So the way to logically proceed is going by the probabilities. The odds are very low that it is any type of cancer. It is just a matter of statistics.

Of all the possibilities (primary cancer, metastasized cancer, lymphoma, lipoma, cyst, salivary gland, fibrotic lymph node), my guess is that you had a good intuition about it from the beginning: it's a fibrotic (aka scarred) lymph node.

One job of a lymph node is to serve as a base where certain immune cells (lymphocytes) multiply to fight an infection. It's like a military base that grows in wartime. After the battle against infection is won, the node usually goes back down to its original size. But sometimes the battle takes place right inside a node. The damage left after the battle is fibrosis, aka scarring.  (More precisely, scarring is the body's way of overlaying the damaged area with connective tissue.)

Now, the other possibility, as you have rightly raised, is that the node was up those weeks ago, went down since but is back up again. The term "reactive" is used for that normal swelling as a node does its job. A reactive node is typically softer than a fibrotic node. In support of the node being reactive is that you had that earache.

It's also possible that the node (if it is a node) is both scarred and also sometimes reactive. That's my guess at this point.

Do you have a cat?
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for the reply, much appreciated.  That is what the doctor said was that it is/has been reacting to something.

I do not have a cat, however I have had cats for the last 10 years until May.
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry, and yes I do mean the sternocleidomastoid muscle.
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1081992_tn?1389907237
Cat scratch fever is known to cause scarring within nodes. However, it's usually painful. (An actual scratching is not necessary.)

I think it would be unusual to have a lymph node right on top of the sternocleidomastoid - but I suppose it could be possible, as an ectopic kind of situation. The location is probably why the first two docs thought it wasn't a node. (I agree with you that it wouldn't be possible to feel anything beneath that muscle.)  Nodes are generally in protected places so they don't get injured from bumping, etc.

The location on top of the muscle would rule out a salivary gland.

Maybe it's fibrosis that occurred from some unknown process. Maybe some kind of fibroma.

A lipoma moves up as a possibility. It would usually be softer than fibrosis. That's a harmless bump made of fatty tissue, a benign tumor. Do you take a lot of zinc?

Was it ever tender? I wouldn't worry unless there was some sudden change. Do you have an appt date for the sonogram?
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1081992_tn?1389907237
If you mean that it's right up near the jaw, then that probably makes a lymph node more probable. If it's down about the level of the Adam's Apple (which is where I thought you were referring to), then less probable.

A node on or next to the SCM muscle and up near the jawline would indeed be reacting to an ear infection. Most ear infections are viral. But as always, any infection could be virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, I have had my fair share of cat scratches over the last 10 years.

It is about level with my Adam's apple, maybe half an inch higher.  I do not recall it ever being tender.  

I have in my (distant) past had a lot of problems with my ears starting with a perforated ear drum when I was a baby,  I also had (never 100% confirmed) glandular fever when I was 16.

Also something else just occured to me....my marriage ended this year as I caught my wife cheating on me, shortly after which I had some (minor) red spots on  the tip of my penis, they came and went and eventually cleared up but never progressed to blisters or anything but I suppose there is the chance that I caught an STD from her?  Too much info I info I know but maybe relevant.
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1081992_tn?1389907237
- Most infections cause enlarged glands near the site of infection. But cat scratch on an arm, e.g., can cause enlarged nodes on the neck.

- My guess is that you'll maybe have recurring minor ear problems whenever your immunity is down. Speaking of which, the stress caused by a betrayer can be enormous and that weakens immunity. It's primarily related to increased cortisol. (For instance, a synthetic cortisol-like drug called prednisone is used to intentionally depress the immune system, such as when a person suffers from severe allergies or autoimmunity.) The number of immune cells doesn't decline (and can even increase), but their activity does decline as they just sort of hang around but don't fight invaders. Other things like alcohol and sugar weaken immunity - even too much exercise.

- STD? I don't know but anything is possible. There is an STD forum here to ask. Some infections have brief symptoms then disappear, but the actual infection might remain without current symptoms.

My guess is that your ear infection caused the node on that side to react. The throat got sore because of the immune signalling chemicals swirling around. An actual throat infection would likely make nodes on both sides swell. I wouldn't spend another minute worrying about cancer.
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1081992_tn?1389907237
Here you go, I found this thread with an answer from a doctor:
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Undiagnosed-Symptoms/bump-on-the-sternocleidomastoid/show/1229860
"bump on the sternocleidomastoid"

Also, wrt your upcoming sonogram: during the scan, I'd ask the tech if they see a "fatty hilum". The results of a scan can suggest many things, but when there is a fatty hilum present, that pretty much means "no cancer".

Also, be aware that the size of the bump that you describe is still fairly small. A reactive node can be, but doesn't have to be, painful or tender.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

I will stil be glad to get the tests done however I am feeling much better about it.

Thanks again.
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1081992_tn?1389907237
Okay, then I'll say some things that they'll look for, first of which being whether it's a node or not.

If it is a node, then the presence of that fatty hilum just about always means "no cancer" - though the absence of fatty hilum does not necessarily mean that it is cancer.

Next, they look for spots of "hypoechogenicity", meaning the sound waves from the sonogram probe are reflected less than expected. There's also the opposite: hyperechoic spots. E.g., unusual spots can be watery spots, 'cystic' areas. If there are are none then the area is normal.

A node has a structure. Imagine that you slice through a tomato. You can see ribs, the chambers between the ribs, seeds. Now imagine slicing through a potato - everything is the same. When cancer goes through a node, it's structure is 'effaced', like turning a tomato into a potato.

Anyway, those are some terms that might help you converse with the sono tech and learn some things immediately, rather than waiting for a doc to tell you.

Good luck. Please post back with results when you learn them.
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Avatar_m_tn
UPDATE

I finally had my ultrasound yesterday and it is good news (I think)
A doctor did the ultrasound and I asked him if he would be able to tell me anything today and he said he hoped to give me a good indication.

Anyway he scanned my whole neck, he said it was a lympth node and looked normal and was nothing to worry about.

I know an ultrasound is maybe not totally definitive and I'll guess I'll get more detail in a week or so when the results reach my GP, overall though I guess I have to be happy with that.
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907672_tn?1381029323
I'm glad you were able to see another doctor and that he was not too worried about it.  I'm also glad he will do blood work and the ultrasound just to be sure.  I think the hardest part is waiting for the results.  I went through that too and it was like torture not knowing.  Did your doctor mention doing a biopsy?  That really is the only way to diagnose blood cancer.  I suppose if they see something on your blood work or ultrasound then a biopsy might be warranted.  

Good luck and keep me posted.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have not had the blood test done yet, the person who does it at my GP was off for 2 weeks and then I was or working away.

I have has a stressful year with my marriage ending and all that goes with that plus living on my own allows plenty of time to worry, I am wondering if this may have been a problem between my ears rather than on my neck, don't get me wrong there was definitely something to be felt that was not on the other side however my current GP was not concerned when he examined it and probably would not have referred me for the ultrasound had I not insisted.  Now the doctor doing the ultrasound at the hospital has said it all looks normal.

I am in 2 minds over the blood test, it would mean another 6-8 weeks of uncertainty which I could probably do without, on the other hand I guess it would give another degree of reassurance over and above the ultrasound.  I'll be going in to see my GP next week so will probably discuss it with him.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks
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Avatar_m_tn
Hello all,

Another update...

I had the blood test done and that has come back normal too, so the doctor, ultrasound and blood work all say it's ok. The doctor said that it was not overly large and that it is not unusual for nodes to be asymmetrical which is I guess what worried me initially as I have been used to them being consistent on each side (I can barely feel it on the other side of my neck)

This has been going on for about 6 months now and I am pretty sure the size has never changed (hard to tell really as it is subjective for me)  I still find it a little disconcerting as it can still clearly be felt but I am far more comfortable now, I guess I have to get used to it and keep my eyes peeled for a change or other symptoms.

Thanks for all the replies.

Neil
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907672_tn?1381029323
Awesome new Neil.  I'm sure this was a huge relief for you.  Good for you for following through and getting to the bottom of it.  I'm sure you won't have any future problems but as you mentioned, now you know what to watch for.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I have feelin I small bumb on the left of my nneck, its about the size of a 5 pence piece . Whenever I touch it its not to painfull but,its gets a bit sore around that area plus I don't know if this has anything to do with it but. I am ALWAYS feeling tired!

Please help x
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907672_tn?1381029323
Hi Mollie,
Welcome to the forum.  It would probably be best to post this as a separate post rather than attached to someone else's post.  You might get more responses.

To answer your question, most swollen lymph nodes are due from infection and will go away on its own, however I would have the lump looked at by your doctor if it doesn't go away in a couple of weeks (just to be on the safe side).   They may want to watch it for a while or try antibiotics.  They may also want to draw blood and do a CBC.  

Good luck and I wish you well.
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