Prevalence and aetiology of neck masses among patients receiving surgical services at Muhimbili National Hospital, Tanzania

  • Zephania Saitabau Abraham
  • Mary Mathias
  • Kassim Babu Mapondella
  • Aveline Aloyce Kahinga
  • Daudi Ntunaguzi
  • Enica Richard Massawe


Background: Neck masses are found in all age groups from many causes, ranging from congenital to acquired pathology. There is paucity of data on neck masses in Tanzania and at Muhimbili National Hospital, prevalence of neck masses is not yet known. The aim of this study was thus to address this gap.

Methods: Descriptive cross sectional study was done from July to December 2016 involving patients who were admitted in surgical wards. Structured questionnaires were filled after thorough head and neck evaluation of patients. Data analys is
by SPSS version 20 and p-value<0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.

Results: The overall prevalence of neck masses was found to be 14.1% and proportion of neck masses was found to increase as the age increase. Anterior triangle was the commonest anatomical site (53.8%). Most of the neck masses (65.7%) were malignant and the age group most involved was >60 years (P-value 0.000). Among the malignant neck masses squamous cell carcinoma was the leading variant (54.1%) and most of themalignant neck masses were metastatic nodes from primary cancers in the upper aerodigestive tract (67.21%).

Conclusion: This study has unveiled neck masses at MNH to be prevalent and the proportion of neck masses increase age increase. Anterior triangle was the leading anatomical site. Most of the neck masses were malignant and majority of them were metastatic nodes from upper aerodigestive tract.

Any neck mass especially in adults needs thorough evaluation including upper aerodigestive assessment to rule out the possibility of malignancy.

Keywords: Prevalence, Aetiology, Neck masses, Muhimbili, Tanzania


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eISSN: 0047-651X
print ISSN: 0047-651X