Numerous possible causes for lumps in any part of the neck include enlarged lymph nodes, cysts, infections and thyroid gland swelling, according to MedlinePlus. Lumps are sometimes indicative of various types of cancer, though most lumps in children and adults are benign.
A person of any age with a lump in the neck should see a doctor right away to determine the cause, reports MedlinePlus. Enlarged lymph nodes are the most common types of lumps in the neck, and they can be caused by bacterial infections, such as strep throat or tonsillitis, or by viral infections, such as HIV/AIDS or herpes. Cancers such as Hodgkin disease, leukemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma can also cause the lymph nodes to swell. If lumps are just below the surface of the skin, it is likely a type of cyst.
A doctor may run a series of tests or refer a patient to an ear, nose and throat specialist, or ENT, for testing to determine an accurate diagnosis, explains Healthline. These tests may include a blood count, HIV test, X-rays and tissue sampling. Treatment for a lump in the neck varies depending on the condition causing it. For example, bacterial infections are typically treated with antibiotics, but more severe conditions such as cancers may require surgery or radiation treatments.