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Is There A Doctor In The House?


My friend needs help.


She has about 10 lumps on the right side of her neck extending from below her ear to her collarbone. They are soft and free floating and are growing. The lumps are small starting below her ear and increase in size to her collarbone where the largest one is about the size of a golf ball. They do not cause her pain.


She has been without health insurance since her husband quit his job a few years ago. She does work out of her home to pay the family bills and cannot obtain health insurance because she was told those undiagnosed lumps are a pre-existing condition. She does not qualify for Medicaid because she owns her home and has a small savings account.

She went to her primary care physician many months ago and was told she would need a battery of blood tests, mri, cat-scan, xrays, etc. Well over $10,000. She does not have $10,000. She said even if she did have $10,000 for the diagnosis, how would she pay for the treatment.

Does anyone have any ideas on what she can do?


I'm so ashamed that we live in a country that does not provide affordable health care for its citizens.


Thank you.

Click here to email me if you have any suggestions for her

She has about 10 soft and movable lumps extending from below her right ear getting gradually larger ending with the largest lump on her collarbone.

I received this email from a Swiss doctor/surgeon on Sat. 6-14-09

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for publishing those photos of your friend's neck. It makes judging the condition much easier than just words, according to the adage, "A picture of one million bytes says more than 10 KB of text."

In my humble opinion, what the photos show looks like a lipoma. Lipomata (that's the correct plural, since it's a Greek word, as so many in medispeak; however, most people say "lipomas") are unsightly but pretty harmless. For more info, see  . You wrote your friend has about ten of them and they cause no pain. That confirms my admittedly very rough diagnosis.

I have a patient who has about twenty lipomata, most of them on the arms, one even right under the wrist band of her watch, with a deep impression from the watch. It looks pretty awkward, but she says she has no problem other than people asking her what the heck that is. She has had them for thirty years, and her physician is keeping an eye on them, but the risk is absolutely minimal.

Of course I cannot diagnose those lumps of your friend across the Atlantic, but I'm fairly sure she needn't worry about those ten grand. I hope she can find a decent physician who just does some palpation and then can calm her down. I know and dislike that kind of doctors who need mri and cat scans to diagnose an ordinary sunburn. Assessing such a condition always should begin with very simple and affordable test. Visual and palpatory examination are at the very beginning, and most of the times that's all that has to be done. Always steer clear of doctors who talk about thousands of bucks already before even having seen the problem.

If a simple examination can confirm the harmless character of those lumps, maybe your friend can get health insurance all the same, not necessarily for removing the lipomata, but for other possible health problems.

I'm a doctor myself, albeit in the somewhat different field of maxillofacial and oral surgery, so, of course, I may be wrong. However, your description and the photos speak volumes.  I fully agree with you as to the state of health care in your country. I love the USA (although I would love it even much more if Cheney and his puppets, including Dubbya, were held responsible for what they did to the nation and the world), but let's face it, in the field of health care the USA is a banana republic. There are absolutely great clinics and excellent research institutions, but without affordable health insurance you have to ruin yourself to get treatment.

I very much hope this helps a bit. The most important thing is for your friend to know that most likely those lumps are harmless.

Keep up your absolutely great work. We love you!!!