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Feature Article

Neck lumps: a guide to assessment and management

Chris Hobbs, Ron Bova

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Abstract

A wide variety of pathology can present with a neck lump. The two most important investigations that a GP can arrange prior to referral of a patient with a suspicious neck lump are a neck soft tissue CT scan and a fine needle aspiration biopsy.

Key Points

  • Neck lumps can be categorised as congenital/developmental, inflammatory or neoplastic in origin.
  • A persistent lateral neck lump in an adult should be considered malignant until proven otherwise.
  • A history of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or previous head and neck or skin cancer should raise suspicion.
  • A thorough examination of the head and neck (including skin) is essential.
  • The most important investigations in a patient with a suspicious neck lump are a neck soft tissue CT scan with contrast and a fine needle aspiration biopsy.

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