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.
- 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.