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Causes of a Lump on the Neck or Behind the Ear

Edited By: Krista Mc'Farlene
 Lumps on the neck or behind the ears are rather common. Sometimes, lumps can be caused by acne or lipomas and are not really dangerous. But there are cases when neck and ear lumps may be a sign of a more dangerous or even a life-threatening health issue. Here are the most common reasons for neck and ear lumps to appear, and what to do should you notice any lumps. 
 
lump on neck

1. Have the lumps checked for cancerous cells

Lumps on the neck toward the back may be caused by NPC nasopharyngeal cancer, being spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. These lumps aren't usually painful, however, they shouldn't be ignored. Other symptoms may include impaired, nasal blockages and nosebleeds, blurred vision, facial pain or numbness and headaches. Even if you experience no other symptoms other then lumps on your neck be sure to schedule a visit to a doctor, in order to exclude any severe cases.

Lumps behind the ears may also accompany some type of cancers - including skin cancer - or it can be caused by benign tumors. However, both malignant and benign lumps may be painless and can grow in size with time or they may remain the same. So, no matter what size your lump is, consult your doctor to find out what the lump really is and the best option would be to have it treated or removed. 

lump on neck

2. Have your lymphatic system checked

The lymph nodes become enlarged and swollen when the lymphatic system breaks down, a medical condition that is known as lymphadenopathy. Our lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels and hundreds of lymph nodes that filter bacteria and other toxins from our bodies by trapping and destroying them. The enlargement of lymph nodes in different parts of the body, including the neck, the area around the ears and under the arms is caused by this medical condition. If you notice any of the lymph nodes enlarged, it is best to visit your doctor, no matter where the lymph nodes are located.

Also, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin are common symptoms of Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in white blood cells, or lymphocytes. Other symptoms of this disease may include night sweats, weight loss, fever, and a persistent cough. Although in most cases swollen lymph nodes may be caused by an infection, it's always better not to ignore these symptoms and have it seen to immediately. 

lump on neck

3. Have your body systems checked for infections

In some situations, a lump may be caused by viral and bacterial infections which are also caused by swelling and lumps around the neck and ears. Mononucleosis, strep throat, chickenpox, and measles cause lumps behind the ears due to infections. Some of the infections may also cause mastoiditis or the inflammation of the mastoid bone which is found behind the ear. This causes the diseased bone to protrude and form a lump behind the ear. 

lump on neck

4. Check if your lumps are caused by sebaceous cysts

A sebaceous cyst may cause ear and neck lumps which form in damaged or blocked sebaceous glands that produce oil coating for our skin and hair. But, due to traumas like scratches, wounds or acne, sebaceous glands, or their passages, may become impaired, causing a cyst. Doctors are able to diagnose the cysts during visual examinations, though in some cases, additional testing needs to be done. 
 

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