A mass (lump or nodule) of the head and neck is a common reason for patients to seek the consultation of an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician. Masses of the head and neck may represent a variety of conditions such as infections, congenital lesions, benign growths, or malignant tumors. Our physicians will determine the etiology of a head and neck mass by reviewing the patient’s symptoms.
A biopsy can reveal whether a mass is noncancerous, or benign, or cancerous, also known as malignant. Our doctors will create a treatment plan based on the results. If a mass is noncancerous, our specialists recommend removing it to prevent complications, such as infection or problems with breathing or swallowing. Doctors may also remove a benign growth for cosmetic reasons.
If a mass is cancerous, our otolaryngologists partner with oncologists and other specialists to determine the most appropriate treatment options.
Fine Needle Biopsy
Fine needle biopsy also called a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) removes samples of tumor tissue using a thin, hollow needle to determine whether the lesion is cancerous or noncancerous. Performed under a local anesthetic in our offices, this procedure involves inserting the needle directly into the site of the lesion to withdraw a sample of tissue or fluid. It can be used on nearly any area of the body, including the thyroid and lymph nodes. This procedure can also be performed to evaluate how well treatment is working or to determine is a mass is a solid or a cyst.
Ultrasound Guided Biopsy
Ultrasound guided biopsy uses ultrasound imaging to ensure that tissue samples are accurately obtained from the site of the abnormality, and is usually performed with a local anesthetic. Once the site of the abnormality is found on the ultrasound, a small incision is made and a thin needle is inserted to draw out the tissue samples. The ultrasound provides real-time imaging to verify that the needle is in the correct area, ensuring accurate test results.
Endoscopy Guided Biopsy
An endoscopic guided biopsy uses a thin, lighted, flexible camera known as an endoscope to obtain tissue samples of suspicious-looking head and neck masses. The endoscope contains a port through which small instruments can be inserted in order to remove a sample of tissue, which is then sent to a pathology lab for detailed testing. The results will confirm whether or not the masses are cancerous, as well as possible treatment plans. Endoscopy is an outpatient procedure performed using a local anesthetic.
CT, MRI and PET scans are imaging modalities that can play a valuable role in detecting cancer, as well as monitoring its response to therapy. Since each modality has its own advantages, most patients will benefit from multiple imaging examinations to fully evaluate their individual condition. Your doctor will discuss the reasoning, results and potential implications of each procedure with your prior to the exam.
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