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Health A-Z

Neck lumps: could they be harmful?

My daughter has a lump in her neck, which affects her breathing when lying down. The doctor said it was just gristle, but now she has one on the other side. Can you help?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

All lumps in the neck need to be taken seriously. The idea that a lump in your daughter's neck, which interferes with her breathing, is just " gristle" is ridiculous and possibly downright dangerous. You don't give me much information to work on, but the lumps could be enlarged thyroid gland, which can press on the windpipe. Other possibilities include swollen glands and even cancerous growths. I don't really know what her doctor means when he uses the term "gristle". I think of gristle as fibrous tissue that you find in the middle of a piece of steak. There is certainly no gristle in a healthy human neck. I urge your daughter to get some good medical advice as soon as possible. An ultrasound scan is a good way of looking at lumps in the neck. But a careful examination by a sensible doctor is pretty good, too.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.