Sep 14, 2017
This podcast discusses the implications for otolaryngologists of "Clinical Practice Guideline: Evaluation of the Neck Mass in Adults", published as a supplement to the September 2017 issue of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, the official journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Foundation.
Neck masses are common in adults, but often the underlying etiology is not easily identifiable. While infections cause most of the neck masses in children, most persistent neck masses in adults are neoplasms. Malignant neoplasms far exceed any other etiology of adult neck mass. Importantly, an asymptomatic neck mass may be the initial or only clinically apparent manifestation of head and neck cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), lymphoma, thyroid, or salivary gland cancer. Evidence suggests that a neck mass in the adult patient should be considered malignant until proven otherwise. Timely diagnosis of a neck mass due to metastatic HNSCC is paramount because delayed diagnosis directly affects tumor stage and worsens prognosis. Unfortunately, despite substantial advances in testing modalities over the last few decades, diagnostic delays are common.
Currently, there is only 1 evidence-based clinical practice guideline to assist clinicians in evaluating an adult with a neck mass. Additionally, much of the available information is fragmented, disorganized, or focused on specific etiologies. In addition, although there is literature related to the diagnostic accuracy of individual tests, there is little guidance about rational sequencing of tests in the course of clinical care. This guideline strives to bring a coherent, evidence-based, multidisciplinary perspective to the evaluation of the neck mass with the intention to facilitate prompt diagnosis and enhance patient outcomes.