Cervical Lymph Node Swelling

What Causes Lump On Front Or Side Of Neck?

Lump on front or side of neck can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'very minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose lump on front or side of neck, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "lump on front or side of neck" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Mercury Toxicity
  • Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
  • Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia
  • CLL Leukemia
  • Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Epstein-Barr Virus

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
low energy/stamina
diminished perspiration
African ethnicity
poor mental clarity
frequent sore throats
having chills from an illness
highly elevated basophil count
having trouble concentrating
poor cold weather tolerance
moderate abdominal pain
multiple swollen axillary nodes
short-term memory failure
... and more than 140 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of lump on front or side of neck:
Cause Probability Status
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma 99% Confirm
Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) 28% Unlikely
Chronic Fatigue-Fibromyalgia 22% Unlikely
Mercury Toxicity 2% Ruled out
Epstein-Barr Virus 2% Ruled out
CLL Leukemia 2% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 0% Ruled out
Hodgkin's Lymphoma 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate recent swollen/painful lymph nodes, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
SIDES OR FRONT OF NECK: Do you have any swollen lymph nodes here?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Often, but not right now
→ 1-2 lymph nodes swollen
→ 3 or more lymph nodes swollen
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate no swollen cervical nodes, frequent swollen cervical nodes, swollen cervical nodes or multiple swollen cervical nodes, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

The lymph nodes involved in CFS are small, moveable, not tender and most commonly involve the neck, axillary region or inguinal region.  A single lymph node that is very large, tender or immovable suggests a diagnosis other than CFS.  Similarly, generalized adenopathy suggests a diagnosis other than CFS.

Enlarged Lymph Nodes

Enlarged Lymph Nodes also suggests the following possibilities:

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

As another one of its nicknames – glandular fever – implies, perhaps the most distinguishing mono symptom is enlarged glands or lymph nodes, especially in the neck, but also in the armpit(s) and groin.


Swollen, firm and possibly tender lymph nodes lasting longer than three months are a symptom of AIDS.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma may present initially as painless lymph node enlargement, especially of the neck and above the collar bone.

Mercury Toxicity (Amalgam Illness)

Swollen lymph nodes in the neck have been associated with known mercury toxicity.  Other sites reported include in front of the ear, under the jaw, and on the back of the neck.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

The most common symptom of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin.

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