Aim: Head and neck masses are common clinical findings in infants, children and adolescents. This retrospective study aimed to assess the frequency of head and neck masses in children younger than 2 years of age.
Materials and methods: All medical files present in the Pathology Department of Children’s Medical Center in Tehran from 1995 to 2016 with the pathology report confirming head and neck mass in children 0-2 years of age were evaluated in this study. The masses were divided into three groups of congenital/developmental, inflammatory/reactive/infectious and neoplastic (benign/malignant) lesions. Data were analyzed using SPSS® version 22.
Results: Among 15,572 children aged 0-2 years presenting to the Children’s Medical Center in Tehran, Iran, 413 patients (2.7%) showed head and neck masses with a higher frequency in males (1.2:1; p = 0.000). About half of the lesions were in the neck, and about one-third of the remaining lesions were in the oral cavity and salivary glands. Most lesions were congenital (40.7%) or inflammatory (34.9%). Hemangioma was the most common benign tumor. Among congenital lesions, dermoid cyst and branchial cleft cyst and among inflammatory lesions, lymphadenitis and lymphoid tissue hyperplasia were the most common. The overall prevalence of malignant neoplasms was 3.6%, and rhabdomyosarcoma had a high frequency. Mucocele was the most common oral inflammatory mass.
Conclusion: The results showed variations in the frequency of head and neck masses, especially malignancies, in children under the age of 2 compared with older children. Since children comprise one-fourth of the population, the frequency of head and neck masses must be separately determined for each age group.