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Have lump on neck. Ultrasound showed cyst. Could it be lymphoma?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1986
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Lump in left side neck on outside of carotid artery. Ultrasound shows cyst. Doctor say he does NOT think it's lymphoma but wants CT scan. Scared to death. Wondering why doctor wants follow up CT scan if ultrasound shows it clearly as a cyst since I understand most cysts are benign.
Posted Mon, 17 Dec 2012 in Lymphoma
Answered by Dr. Stephen Christensen 3 hours later
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this issue, and I understand your concerns. There's nothing like a medical workup to keep a person awake at night.
You're correct in your assumption that most simple cysts are benign. However, even benign neck cysts can be due to processes that might require treatment, such as cystic vascular abnormalities or lymphatic malformations. CT or MRI give a much clearer picture of these lesions, both to identify them and to guide treatment.
Unfortunately, in rare instances cystic neck lesions are malignant (e.g., metastatic squamous cell carcinoma or cystic schwannoma). CT and MRI are valuable for characterizing these lesions, too.
It sounds like your doctor is just being thorough...which is what I'd expect from MY doctor if I had a mass in my neck.
I hope things work out well for you. I'll be available if you have additional concerns.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have lump on neck. Ultrasound showed cyst. Could it be lymphoma? 15 hours later
I could see the cyst on the display during the test. The technician told me it was fluid filled and approximately 2 inches wide. Would it require removal or can it be aspirated? As a side note, I've seen ultrasound of breast cysts (my wife's) and my cyst looks almost the same as far as shape and contrast.

Thanks for replying.
Answered by Dr. Stephen Christensen 42 minutes later
Thanks for writing back.
Whether or not the cyst can be aspirated depends on its source and nature. If it arises from a vascular structure or lymphatics, it might be fruitless (or even dangerous) to simply put a needle in it. Similarly, if it's adherent to underlying structures -- say, your carotid -- and it needs to be removed, you'll require the services of a head and neck surgeon and/or vascular surgeon. Hopefully your CT will shed some light on the cyst's characteristics and allow your doctor to decide if it needs to be treated...and how.
Let me know if you have any more questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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