Cancer of the Lymph Gland: What is Lymphoma?
Over the last couple of years, Lymphoma Cancer – a form of cancer in the circulatory system has been increasingly reported in India.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system, comprising a network of conduits called lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph unidirectionally towards the heart. Usually, cells in different parts of the body repair and reproduce themselves and they divide in the body in an orderly and controlled manner. However, if for some reason the process gets out of control the cells carry on dividing and since these cells are contained in lymph nodes which are present throughout the body, in lymphoma - a lump or tumour forms in one or more groups of lymph nodes.
There are two main types of lymphoma: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be high or low grade and initially affects groups of lymph nodes in one area of the body. Later the lymphoma cells can spread through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes in other parts of the body. The affected cells can also get into the bloodstream, which may carry them to other organs. When the lymphoma cells reach a new area they may form a new tumour. The common places for it to start are neck, armpit, chest, groin and in the abdomen. It can also occur in body organs and some gets affected in the spleen, liver, lungs or bone marrow.
Unlike NHL, Hodgkin lymphoma’s first symptom is usually a swelling in the neck, armpit or groin. The swellings are usually painless, but some may experience an ache. Other symptoms may include coughing, chest pains, or breathing problems, pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs due to swollen spleen or liver, pain in lymph nodes after drinking alcohol, skin blushing or flushing drenching and/or frequent sweats especially at night, unexplained high temperatures, weight loss and tiredness.
*Data Courtesy: Dr Balakrishna Padate, Haemato-Oncologist at Hinduja Hospital
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images