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Health & more

New Guidelines Aimed at Helping Doctors Diagnose Head and Neck Masses

New Guidelines Aimed at Helping Doctors Diagnose Head and Neck Masses

The cause of neck masses is generally difficult to pinpoint in adults however they are still common however new guidelines have been introduced to help with making that decision.

The guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery comes as there has been an increase in the number of head and neck cancers that are in relation to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is sexually transmitted.

“A neck mass may indicate a serious medical problem,” said Dr. M. Boyd Gillespie, assistant chairman of the group that developed these guidelines. “It does not mean the patient has cancer, but it does mean they need more medical evaluation to make a diagnosis.”

He also referred to the latest release as “an important instrument for the early diagnoses and treatment,” in an academy news release.

A neck mass can vary in size and can occur as a result of many reasons. While it could indicate a benign or cancerous tumor it can also be a symptom of a bacterial or viral infection.

The new guideline hopes to make any delays in the diagnosis of head and neck cancer reduce, lower the number of inappropriate tests undertaken and encourage doctors to undertake a physical examination when they suspect an abnormal lump in the neck may be cancerous.

The Academy also indicated that HPV-positive head and neck cancer is a growing cause for concern with a rise in cases.

While the reason for this increase isn’t clear the American Cancer Society suggests that rise is likely as a result of oral sex becoming more commonplace in society.

Some of the symptoms that suggest a mass might be cancerous include:

  • Increasing size.
  • The lump lasting for longer that two/three weeks.
  • Neck, throat or ear pain.
  • Changes to a person’s voice.
  • Issues with swallowing or hearing.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • A fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

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