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Having lump behind ear. Depression between skull and lower jaw. Having ear infection and enlarged lymph node. Advise?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 14831 Questions
Good morning. I am a 44 y/o woman 5'5 about 155#. I have found a lump behind by L ear this past Tuesday. It feels like its in the depression between my skull and lower jaw. I don't think it's 1 cm and somewhat tender to touch (of course the more I touch it, the more it hurts). It's not extremely hard, no redness, etc. I did bite my inner cheek on the L side over the weekend and ended up with about a pencil sized eraser raised place on my cheek that developed some superficial pus looking areas. I saw the dentist and he put me on Clindamycin 150mg Q 6. I had some ear pain yesterday and thinking I had an ear infection I did see my DO yesterday. When I told her about what I thought was an enlarged lymph node, so felt around the skull around my ears and down my neck, but didn't feel the spot behind my ear. When I pointed it out, she could feel it and is a little perplexed. Said she wasn't sure what it could be. "Maybe a cyst? Likely a reactive lymph node 'tucked' away." I did have a rather large single ball of wax that was irrigated out of that ear and she said my tympanic membrane was irritated at the top. Wanted me to continue on the Clyndamycin and complete the full 7 day course. She said that she didn't feel this was any more serious and that unless the lump got bigger, nothing else needed to be done. Is there any reason for me to be concerned that this could be a serious condition such as lymphoma? (I do have high anxiety and tend to be hypervigilant since losing my mom to lung cancer w/brain mets--she was a smoker).
Posted Thu, 26 Sep 2013 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 26 minutes later
Brief Answer:
unlikely cancerous

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for using healthcare magic

It is understandable to be concerned.

Lymph nodes can enlarge in various conditions such as infections or inflammtion in the general area, infection of the node itself and more serious conditions such as cancer.

The cancer can be of the node itself or again related to the surrounding area.

A cancer related to cancer tends to be large, non tender and hard to the touch.
There are also additional symptoms such as fever, night sweats and weight loss.

In most cases , the enlargement is related to non cancerous causes.

The normal management is to review the lymph node in 4 to 6 weeks , which is the time it would normally take for it to resolve if it is related to infection or inflammation.
If it is still present with no decrease in size then a full blood count is done looking particularly at the white cell count.

White cell counts would go up in both infections and some cancers like leukemia or lymphoma.
The increase is greater when it is related to cancer.

If you do not believe that you will be able to wait the 4 to 6 weeks then you can ask your GP to consider a blood test sooner.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any additional questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having lump behind ear. Depression between skull and lower jaw. Having ear infection and enlarged lymph node. Advise? 10 minutes later
Thank you for your time and response. As you know, the "wait and see" approach is extremely nerve-racking, but since my DO and your response indicates "unlikely cancerous", I will do my best to try and calm my fears. I'm guessing that generally a 4-6 week wait and see approach would not significantly impact a more serious condition? If a CBC is done and the WBC count is WNL, then would this indicate the infection has resolved and no cancer/lymphoma? just wondering if you got my followup question and if you can still see it. THANKS
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 8 hours later
Brief Answer:
a normal white means no lymphoma or leukemia

Detailed Answer:

sorry about the late reply

Yes, if the white cell count is within normal range then it is unlikely that there is any lymphoma,leukemia or if an infection was previously present, it has resolved.

Please feel free to ask any additional questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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