There are a number of different head and neck masses, according to the Columbia University Medical Center, and cancer causes some painless lumps. In addition, benign lumps can present dangers if they interfere with nerves or put pressure on the head or neck.
The head and neck also have several lymph nodes that can become swollen and create lumps, explains the Columbia University Medical Center. Lymph nodes often swell as the body fights infection, and they typically recede once the infection clears. There are also a number of benign causes of lumps on the head or neck, including cysts, vascular masses and thyroid masses.
Basal cell carcinoma can also cause painless lumps on the skin, and these lumps are often painless at first, according to MedlinePlus. These cancers typically grow slowly, and they rarely spread to other parts of the body; most people who receive treatment have their cancers cured, although they can return. Basal cell carcinoma typically starts off as a small bump, states WebMD, and it often occurs near the nose or in other spots on the face, although it can occur elsewhere. The primary cause of basal cell carcinoma is exposure to ultraviolet light due to sun exposure or from a tanning bed.