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Lymphoma- What Is Lymphoma? The Basics

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Updated November 03, 2010

Lymphoma- What Is Lymphoma? The Basics

The Lymphatic System

Image © The Canadian Cancer Society

What is Lymphoma?:

The term “lymphoma” is used to describe certain cancers that arise from the cells of the immune system. To understand how these diseases develop, it is necessary to first understand the role of the lymphatic system in the body.

The lymphatic system plays an important role in immunity and helps protect the body from disease and infection. It is made up of a series of vein-like vessels that carry lymph throughout the body. Lymph is a clear, watery substance that contains infection-fighting lymphocytes, a type of white cell. Lymph nodes are bean shaped glands that are responsible for the production and storage of these special cells. Bone marrow, as well as the spleen, tonsils and thymus gland are also part of the lymphatic system.

Lymphoma is a cancer that occurs when lymphocytes proliferate in an uncontrolled manner. This error causes an over production of abnormal lymphocytes which then clump together and form a mass in the lymph nodes or other organs of the lymphatic system.

There are two main classifications of lymphoma:

Although both these diseases arise from the lymphatic system, their signs and symptoms, behavior, and treatment are quite different.

Sources:

Foon,K., Ghobrial,I., Geskin,L. et al. (2006). The Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas. In Lichtman, M., Beutler,E., Kipps,T. et al(eds.)Williams Hematology- 7th edition. (pp. 1407-1461). New York, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Hillier, E., and Munker,R. (2007) Hodgkin's Lymphoma. In Munker,R., Hillier,E., Glass,J. et al (eds.)Modern Hematology: Biology and Clinical Management- 2nd edition. (pp.225-237). Totowa, New Jersey: Humana Press Inc.

Horning,S. (2006). Hodgkin Lymphoma. In Lichtman,M., Beutler,E., Kipps,T. et al (eds.)Williams Hematology- 7th edition. (pp.1461-1483). New York, New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Munker,R.,Marion,J., Ye, G. et al.(2007). The Non- Hodgkin's Lymphomas. In Munker,R., Hillier,E., Glass,J. et al (eds.)Modern Hematology: Biology and Clinical Management- 2nd edition. (pp. 237-271). Totowa, New Jersey: Humana Press Inc.

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