Tumors or growths in the head and neck region, frequently present as a lump in the neck, but may also involve the nose and sinuses, thyroid gland and salivary glands. The can be divided into 2 general categories - benign (not cancerous) and malignant (cancer). Fortunately, most growths in the head and neck region in children are benign. These benign growths can be related to infection, inflammation, fluid collections, swellings, or neoplasms (tumors) that are non life-threatening. Malignant growths, on the other hand, may be life-threatening and cause other problems related to their growth and spread.
Enlarged lymph nodes are the most frequent presentation of neck masses in children. These are usually reactive in nature, and related to an infection or inflammation. However, if the lymph nodes remain enlarged for a period of time without going away, it is important to have an otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon evaluate the problem.
Other benign growths in the face and neck include cysts (fluid collection) such as branchial cleft cyst, thyroglossal duct cyst, and dermoid cysts. These often require removal due to their continued growth and potential for infection. Growths of blood vessels often are seen in the face and neck and may present as hemangiomas, vascular and lymphatic malformations. Some of these may require removal or treatment depending upon the type and location.
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