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Noticed lump behind ear. Hard to touch. What cause the node to swell? Possibility of cancer?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
Hi, I have been waking up after a night of sleep with horrible pain on my right side. I thought this was from sleeping on my ear too long. Today I discovered a large, hard, very painful lump about the size of a dime behind my right ear on the bone. I feel fantastic, no signs of being sick or anything. The only other thing I can add is that for about 4 days in a row, my entire neck has been extremely tense and has often kept me from sleeping. It almost feels like neck growing pains? This lump behind my right ear is very painful, so much that I can almost always feel it even when not touching, and it's hard as bone and the same color as my skin. You can literally SEE this lump protruding from behind my ear without actually touching it. Is this possible cancer? If it's not, and it's just a lymph node, what would specifically cause that node to swell, and could it be related to the neck pain that I had? (The neck pain has since dulled.)
Posted Tue, 14 Aug 2012 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 2 hours later
Hello and thank you for submitting your question.

Your question is a very good one and I will work on providing you with some information and recommendations regarding the symptoms you are experiencing.

The most likely cause of the symptoms you are experiencing is what we call we active lymphadenopathy. This is our response of your immune system to some type of stimulating agent which might include a virus or bacteria or even some type of pollen or allergen in the environment.

These types of reactive lymph nodes generally will slowly resolved over about 10 to 14 days.

I would keep an eye and this for the time being. I would not try to press or touch this area for now as well. If this area does not improve or if it gets larger in about two weeks then you might bring it to the attention of your primary care doctor.

It is very unlikely that this is some type of cancer or lymphoma.

Thank you again for submitting your question. I hope you have found my response to be helpful and reassuring. If you have additional concerns I would be happy to discuss them with you.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Noticed lump behind ear. Hard to touch. What cause the node to swell? Possibility of cancer? 3 minutes later
The only concern I have is that I am feeling great, have no allergies, and it hurts. Also do you think that could be related to the neck pain I had?
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 41 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the followup.

The pain in the neck might be related to this as tere might be some inflammation going on around the lymph node which could contribute to tenderness. You might try taking some ibuprofen a few times per day to see if this helps.

I think a good 10 days should be enough time to declare what this actually is.

Tha ks again for the query. I'm here if you have any other concerns.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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