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About the Lymph System

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Updated September 24, 2006

What are the lymphatics?:

Traversing your entire body like your blood vessels is another network of thin tubes carrying a fluid called lymph. You cannot see these tubes like you can spot the veins on your hand. But they travel with the blood vessels carrying nutrients from your food and white blood cells all over your body.

What does it do?:

The lymphatics are vitally important. Lymph carries white blood cells - a vital component of the Immune system that protects the body from infections. Whenever your body is attacked by infections white blood cells reach the infected site fast. Then using the lymphatics other white cells are called to this area, and together a host of cells work together to control the infection.

What are lymph nodes?:

At many points along its path the lymph channels pass through small oval structures called lymph nodes. These act as centres where the white blood cells mature, accumulate, or rest along the way. The neck, the groins and the armpits are some of the areas where there are many lymph node present in groups. Often, when there is an infection like a sore throat, lymph nodes increase in size because a lot of white blood cells accumulate in it to prepare for fighting the infection.

Other parts of the lymph system:

The bone marrow is a kind of spongy tissue that is found within bones. Its function is to produce the white cells that fight infections.

The spleen is another critical component. It lies within the abdomen near the stomach. It is the finishing school and service garage for the white blood cells. White blood cells grow up and mature in the spleen.

The thymus is another organ where white blood cells grow and multiply. It is located in the chest.

Where does lymphoma attack?:

The lymph nodes are the most common sites where lymphoma manifests. But it can affect any of the parts of the lymph system at various stages of the disease. In fact, as lymph vessels pass through virtually all the organs of the body, lymphoma can affect organs which are not normally a part of this system.

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