Cysts in Neck- Cancerous Vs Other Causes

Q: Hi, I am turning 33 next month. I have just been told that I have a couple of cysts in my throat after an Ultra sound. I am very concerned, and I am scheduled to see a specialist in 2 weeks. I was told by my doctor’s office that I shouldn’t worry, but how can I stop worrying about something like this. I originally received the Ultrasound after months of noticing a clicking or popping in my throat, whenever I swallow.

I received 2 scopes as well as CT Scan, which showed nothing at all. I was told it may be stress. No way in hell it’s stress. So I went to another doctor who arranged for an Ultrasonogram and boom there it is- I have 2 cysts in my throat. I am concerned this maybe be cancer. I am also pissed off that neither a CT Scan could see this nor could a doctor doing 2 manual scopes.
-By Shawn


The exact diagnosis of the nature of the cyst would be possible only after your doctor takes a biopsy (FNAC) from the cyst. Before that, nothing can be said for sure!

There are many causes for a cystic swelling in the neck. In your age group, neoplastic (cancerous) reason is very rare. This is commoner in older population.

How Does a Cancerous Swelling Behave?

  • A cancerous swelling would grow in size with time.
  • It would tend to get attached (fixed) to the underlying structures. So, you will not be able to move it with your fingers.
  • It is hard to touch and not very smooth, though exceptions may be there.

A cystic cancerous swelling may arise from any structure in the neck- the thyroid gland, lymph nodes, mucosa. The tissue from which it has arisen and its nature can be ascertained only after a FNAC.

Common Causes of Cystic Swelling in Young People

Sebaceous Cyst

A sebaceous gland may get blocked to give a cystic lump. This is common in youth. Read more about them here.

An Enlarged Lymphatic Tissue

The throat is rich in lymphatic tissues. These may get enlarged secondary to some infection in the ear, nose or throat. Even prolonged allergies (sneezing or cough) may lead to enlarged glands in the throat.

Read more about infective swellings in the neck.

Thyroid Swelling

A swelling from the thyroid gland can also present as a cystic mass.

As you go for your follow up check up, further investigations would be performed. Taking a biopsy would be necessary, after which the exact diagnosis would be possible.

Take Care,

Buddy M.D.

Medical Advice (Q&As) on “Cystic Mass in Neck- Cancer Vs Benign

  1. Anonymous

    Hello. I am a 32 year old female. I have anxiety over cancer so I am always worried about EVERY little thing being a sign of cancer or related to cancer in some way. I have had so many check ups and tests done over the past year and everything keeps coming back completely normal. Someone once told me that swollen lymph nodes around your collar bones were a sign of lymphoma. I feel like if I pull my shoulders up so my collar bones stick out really far and I push really hard in that hollow area right about the bones I can sorta feel something that is squishy like lymph nodes. How can I tell if those are lymph nodes or just muscles or tendons or something? The things I can feel sorta feel “rope like” and I can feel them on both sides. Is that what they are talking about when they are looking for nodes indicating cancer? Or are they firm and easy to feel? Doctors have told me that since I am at a healthy weight and don’t have a lot of fat around my chest and neck area that it’s sometimes easier to feel things because there isn’t a lot of fat to go through. What are the characteristics of worrisome lymph nodes in that area?

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Cancerous lymph nodes would to hard to touch, irregular margins (or shape) and would appear to be somewhat attached to the underlying tissue of the neck.

      You may also feel fatigue and nausea in such conditions. Read above in detail.

  2. anonymous

    I have a small lump right under my chin. I have been reading about lumps to try and figure it out, and I think it is probably just a swollen lymph node. My only cause for concern is that the day before I cough up what appeared to be a blood clot. I contacted a doctor about it, and because I had no other signs or symptoms he just told me to watch it for a few days and if anything else happened to schedule an appointment. The same morning I discovered the lump, I also coughed up some phlegm that was speckled with blood. Just for some background, I an 18 year old female, and have had no other significant health problems

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Doesn’t sound serious. As your doctor says, you may just be observant.

      If you repeatedly get blood in sputum, you need to be checked up.

  3. Ann

    Hi I went for 2 ultrasounds the first results was no mass cysits and after a month the second ultrasound results was mass cycist How do I know which results is right cos my neck is swellon and I have difficulty breathing,eating and swolling .Please advice me what the next thing I should do .I was diagnosed with T3

  4. Ann

    I was resently diagnosed with a thyroid problem T3 later there was swelling on my neck . I HAD SWELLON glands on both sides has well after taking antibiotics the glands went down but the center of my neck still SWELLON .i have difficulty breathing , drinking water cos I get choked and I also have aneamia my iron levels are very low my Bp is either to high or low my vision gets blurry

    1. Buddy M.D. Post author

      Thyroid problems may give you neck swellings. All you need to do is to treat your thyroid aggressively. The swelling is likely to regress on its own.

  5. Monica

    I just recently (3 days ago) noticed a small lump under my chin that is tender to the touch. I don’t feel sick, no soar throat, post nasal drip etc….
    I am worried that it could be cancerous……

    no idea…

    Monica (37)


Ask Your Medical Question

Your Question will be answered by a specialist M.D. in 1-2 days.

To prevent unauthorized comments, we request you to solve a simple problem: *