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Lymphoma

What Is Lymphoma?

Last modified: 
17/04/2013 - 13:33

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system carries lymph fluid and white blood cells throughout body. The purpose of the lymphatic system is to fight infections.

Like all cancers, lymphoma happens when the body's cells grow out of control, often causing tumors to grow. Most lymphomas are made up of white blood cells called either T cells or B cells.

Lymphoma cells are sometimes found in the blood, but tend to form solid tumors in the lymph system or in organs. These tumors can often be felt as a painless lump or swollen gland almost anywhere in the body.

About the Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system helps to filter impurities, bacteria, and viruses from the body. The lymphatic system is made up of the lymph nodesspleen, and special tubes that extend throughout the body like blood vessels.

Swollen glands are actually enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes act as alert centers which activate the immune system to attack viruses, bacteria, or other foreign substances.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Hodgkin's lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin's disease, is a specific form of lymphoma. The cancer cells found in Hodgkin's disease have traits that differ from other lymphomas.

Unlike other forms of lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease usually spreads in a predictable way from one lymph node region to the next. Hodgkin's disease tends to respond differently to treatment than does non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma includes many different cancers of the lymphatic system. Lymphomas are identified according to what type of cells they contain or where they occur in the body.

Most non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are found in the lymph nodes or lymphatic organs. Lymphatic tissues and cells are found throughout the body. So, lymphomas can also develop in the liver, stomach, nervous system or in other organs.

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Lymphoma (Non-Hodgkin's Type)

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.