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Lymph Node Cancer

Cancer of Lymph Node

Cancer of the lymph nodes is also called lymphoma wherein the cancer cells develop on the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes along the blood vessels are considered as the filters of our body against bacteria, viruses and other microbes. These lymph nodes are spread all over our body from head to toe. This condition usually affects teenagers from fifteen to thirty four years old. Although it is prevalent in that age group, men and women are still prone to having lymphoma even if they are younger or older than the said age.

Lymphoma is not a single lymph node cancer. There are many subtypes and these are only diagnosed by looking at the microscope. However, there are 2 types of lymphoma-:

  1. Hodgkins’s Lymphoma - This is characterized by enlarged lymph nodes on the neck, armpits, groins, and even in the chest. This is identified by doing a lymph node biopsy wherein there is presence of Reed-Sternberg. There are subtypes of Hodgkin’s lymphoma but only diagnosed after looking at the samples under the microscope.
  2. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma - this is the most common type of lymphoma and the opposite of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This is not a single disease and there are about 60,000 and a rising number of patients affected with this problem.

Causes of Lymph Node Cancer

There are no definitive causes of lymphoma however; it can be associated with many predisposing and precipitating factors such as:

  1. Age – individuals at the age of 15 to about 30 years old
  2. Infections such as HIV, Epstein-Barr  virus, Helicobacter pylori disease, Hepatitis B or C virus
  3. Autoimmune Disease and other Inherited Immunodeficiency disease such as ataxia- telangiectasia
  4. Organ Transplant
  5. Exposure to Toxic Chemicals such as farm work and exposure to pesticides, herbicides, or benzene, black hair dye

Lymph Node Cancer Signs

Generally, there are warning signs for all cancer problems.  Note that it has an acronym of Caution. These are:

  • Change in bowel and bladder practices
  • A sore that is difficult to heal
  • Unusual and sometimes excessive bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or presence of lump in the breast
  • Indigestion
  • Obvious mole or wart
  • Nagging cough or roughness of voice

Lymph Node Cancer Staging

See this : http://ww5.komen.org/Diagnosis/LymphNodeStatus.html

Lymph node cancer Symptoms

The problem with cancer is that in the beginning, there are no symptoms felt. But as the problem progresses these symptoms will show off and when diagnosed, it is already in the terminal stage.

  1. Lymph nodes are elevated in the body such as the spleen or the armpits
  2. Sometimes, due to the increasing size of the lymph nodes this can press the veins wherein it can swell the arm or leg, the nerve wherein pain and numbness can occur.
  3. Fevers and chills
  4. Unexplained weight loss and lack of energy
  5. Night sweats
  6. Itching can also happen

Lymph node Locations

Picture 1 : Lymphatic system and Lymph node locations

Image source : webanatomy.net

Picture 2 : Superficial (Surface) Lymphatics

Image source : emedicinehealth.com

Picture 3 : Lymph nodes and its locations

image source : mesotheliomaz.info

Lymph node cancer Diagnosis

When the signs and symptoms are present, the patient may admit themselves at the hospital and questions will be ask such as recent illnesses, or family history with cancer, exposure to hazardous items and the like.

Blood Tests

  • These are done to check the function and number of blood cells and the physiology of liver, kidneys and other organs.
  • Blood chemical such as lactate dehydrogenase, LDL an HDLS

Biopsy

  • Tissues are taken on the area where there is swelling and it is examined by the pathologist under a microscope

Imaging Studies

  • X-rays such as the chest since it can detect lymphoma
  • CT scans are done to give a three-dimensional or 3D view to detect the lymph nodes and even masses all over the body.
  • MRI scan this also gives a 3D view but a better description than CT scans. This works better in the brain and spinal cord.

Lymph node Cancer Treatment

There are different treatments for cancer of the lymph nodes and the physician will explain the pros and cons of the treatment.

Chemotherapy

Chemotheraphy is the most common method of treatment that kills the cancer cell. Unfortunately though, this process not only kills the cancer cells but also the cells that help in bodily functions. That is why, most cancer patients are immunosuppressed. There are various effects of chemotherapy which includes low blood cell count, anemia, hair loss, mouth sores.

Chemotherapy drugs may be given to patients via pill but most people prefers through intravenous tubing. This treatment is given in cycles to it is important to the patient should be well hydrated and electrolytes should be at least at a normal range.

Radiation Therapy

This therapy uses high-energy rays to kill the cancer cell. This is a local therapy because the radiation only targets the affected are to reduce the mass or kill the cancer cells. Side effects of Radiation therapy may include fatigue, hair loss, nausea and skin problems since the radiation is pointed towards the affected area.

References

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/lymphoma.html

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/lymphoma/page2_em.htm#Lymphoma%20Causes



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