I. Lymphatic system
A. Function of the system
B. Parts of the system.
C. How cancer affects the system
II. Types of lymphoma
A. Hodgkin’s lymphoma
B. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
III. Cause of lymphoma
B. Organ transplant
C. Bone marrow transplant
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system. “Any group of cancers in which the cells of lymphoid tissues multiply unchecked.” Clayman, 657. This is the system which manufactures and circulates lymph throughout the body. The purpose of the lymphatic system is to help the body fight infection. Lymph is a colorless fluid that contains white blood cells. This system also consists of the spleen, nodes and tonsils. The nodes are small organs found in the neck , under the arms, in the groin and abdomen. The nodes store infection fighting cells.
Normally, cells grow, divide, and replace themselves in and orderly way. When lymphoma occurs, cells in the lymphatic system grow out of control. When this happens too much tissue is formed and a tumor is developed. The tumor is usually in the nodes found in the neck, this is one of the symptoms of lymphoma. Since lymph is circulated throughout the body, it spreads easily. “Cancerous lymphocytes can be confined to a single lymph node or can be spread throughout the body to almost any organ.” Berkow, 770.
There are two basic types of lymphomas, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. There is little difference between the two types of cancers. The main difference is the ages it affects. Hodgkin’s usually occurs in younger people while Non-Hodgkin’s usually occurs in older people.
Some forms of lymphoma are curable, but other forms are not. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more curable than non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Sometimes the cancer will go into remission for a few years then come back. The cure rate of some lymphomas is high, but the cure rate of others is low.
For the most part the cause of lymphoma is unknown. In some cases an organ transplant may cause lymphoma because is suppresses the immune system. It is also thought that HIV may allow other viruses to cause lymphoma. “In most cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the cause is unknown. Occasionally, the disease is associated with the suppression of the immune system.” Clayman, 657.
There are only a few types of treatment for lymphomas. The two main types of treatment are radiation and chemotherapy. An anticancer drug is also used to help fight the cancer. When the cancer is very serious a bone marrow transplant is sometimes used. Most patients who are treated survive five years longer than people who are affected by the cancer and are not treated.
To diagnose lymphoma a portion of the lymph node is removed and examined for cancerous cells. More tests are run on the tissue to determine what type of lymphoma, grade, and stage the cancer is in. After this the doctor will decide which type of treatment will be best for the patient. “The extent of the disease is assessed by a process called staging. Berkow, 773.
Lymphoma can be classified into four basic stages. In the first stage there is only one cancer site. In the second stage there are two cancer sites, both are above or below the waist. In the third stage, there are cancer sites both above and below the waist. The bone marrow is not affected. In the fourth and worst stage, The cancer has spread outside of the lymphatic system. The bone marrow has also been infected.
Berkow, Robert, ed. The Merk Manual. Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merk and Co., Inc., 1997.
What is Lymphoma. Macintosh. Http://www.lymphoma.org