MODULE 2 A: Lymphatic system.

Dear Readers this module is very important from the point of view of not alone for the growing curiosity and for any cancer survivor who is worried about his cancer spreading (metastases) or for understanding the cancer of the Lymph (lymphoma). It is also important from the point of understanding the Immune System of the body or our ability to be able to able to fight common cold, dust and infections which is very important in the changing environment and our world full of EBOLA, SARS, Bird Flu, Swine flu who are all there to gnaw with their nails to seek every inch of life.

First is to revise what we learned in module 1A and 1B about the blood components. Trying to be simple again is that blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells and we have learned about what are plasma and serum and the types cancers of the blood.

Lymphatic Liquid (the second liquid tissue of the body), which is in circulation across our body, is helpful in:

• Cleansing our blood that is full with different types of cell.
• Recirculation of protein and other fluids we may have lost back to the blood.
• Helps our body to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins into our blood-stream.
• It also helps in defending the body against disease.
To understand the lymphatic system I often quote that it is a system that represents the railway tracks or the railways system which has tracks , stations and junctions for line cross overs including yards that stock or repair the faulty components.
Though similar, our lymphatic system is similar in lay out. Let us see what its components are:
It is composed of lymph (fluid or liquid tissue), lymph vessels (tracks), lymph nodes (Stations) or lymph glands (Yards), lymph organs (control or central stations) (e.g., tonsils, adenoids, appendix, spleen, thymus gland, and lymphoid tissue.
Two types of cells are present in the lymph liquid one goes inside the blood vessels and changes its form to kill or destroy pathogens (small micro-organisms), and collect debris (dead or useless material) from damaged cells. The second type of cells are used for immunity and I shall explain them in the Module 2B next week.
See the picture on the post it will zoom when you double click on it and show you in this women body where all the lymphatic system has its tracks and the nodes are shown as yellow green color that usually swell when there is an attack or collection in these nodes (stations). Image courtesy is Shiland’s Healthcare.
All cancer staging reports talk about the stages in cancer as TNM which actually stands for tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) based upon information available for primary tumor (T), regional lymph nodes (N), and distant metastatic sites (M). This is why the lymphatic system is important, first there is a main region of cancer, then it goes to the lymph nodes and spreads before it sis called with abbreviation “M” which means cancer has spread to another part of the body.
N0 – No regional lymphatic metastases.
To summarise and a few up to date questions:

What is lymphoma? — Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of organs all over the body that make and store cells that fight infection.

When people have lymphoma, their white blood cells become abnormal and grow out of control. These cells can travel to different parts of the body. Often, the abnormal cells collect in bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes. This causes the lymph nodes to swell.

There are different types of lymphoma. Some types grow very slowly. Other types grow much faster. Sometimes, people start out with a slow-growing type of lymphoma that later becomes fast-growing.

What are the symptoms? — The first sign of lymphoma is often 1 or more large, swollen lymph nodes. These swollen lymph nodes can be felt under the skin, but are usually not painful. They are often in the neck, groin, armpit, or stomach (refer image on the post).

Some, swollen lymph nodes around the lungs can cause a cough or trouble breathing.

Other symptoms of lymphoma include:

• Fever
• Weight loss
• Night sweats that soak your clothes

All of these symptoms can also be caused by conditions that are not lymphoma. But if you have these symptoms, you should let your doctor or know.

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