Pacific Cancer Programs

Lymph Cancer

Lymphoma (also called: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) is a cancer of a part of the immune system called the lymphatic system. There are many types of lymphoma. One type is called Hodgkin's disease. The rest are called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas begin when a type of white blood cell, called a T cell or B cell, becomes abnormal. The cell divides again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. These abnormal cells can spread to almost any other part of the body. Most of the time, doctors can't determine why a person gets non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can cause many symptoms, such as:

  • Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain
  • Weakness and tiredness that don't go away
  • Pain, swelling or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen

Your doctor will perform an exam and lab tests to determine if you have lymphoma.

What Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is cancer that begins in cells of the immune system. The immune system fights infections and other diseases. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. The lymphatic system includes the following:

  • Lymph vessels: The lymphatic system has a network of lymph vessels. Lymph vessels branch into all the tissues of the body.
  • Lymph: The lymph vessels carry clear fluid called lymph. Lymph contains white blood cells, especially lymphocytes such as B cells and T cells.
  • Lymph nodes: Lymph vessels are connected to small, round masses of tissue called lymph nodes. Groups of lymph nodes are found in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, and groin. Lymph nodes store white blood cells. They trap and remove bacteria or other harmful substances that may be in the lymph.
  • Other parts of the lymphatic system: Other parts of the lymphatic system include the tonsils, thymus, and spleen. Lymphatic tissue is also found in other parts of the body including the stomach, skin, and small intestine.

Because lymphatic tissue is in many parts of the body, Hodgkin lymphoma can start almost anywhere. Usually, it's first found in a lymph node.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cells

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins when a lymphocyte (usually a B cell) becomes abnormal. The abnormal cell divides to make copies of itself. The new cells divide again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. The abnormal cells don't die when they should. They don't protect the body from infections or other diseases. The buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

More details, including medically graphic images, can be found at The National Cancer Institute (NCI). This website has up-to-date information for patients and practitioners about pancreatic cancer. To visit NCI's Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma webpage, please click here.

Resources

The National Cancer Institute (NCI)

This website has up-to-date information for patients and practitioners about Lymphoma.

  • Visit the NCI website.

MedlinePlus - Lymphoma Cancer

Please make sure you check the MedlinePlus online for unterine cancer with an extensive, constantly updated resource list.

The American Cancer Society (ACS)

ACS is a source of Lymphoma information for the general public and health professionals. Detailed Guide: Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin Type: What Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?

  • Visit the ACS website.
Printed Materials to Download

This section has PDF (Adobe Acrobat format) files of useful resources created by various agencies that can be downloaded directly from the pacificcancer.org website. The organization, year of publication and size of the pdf file are listed.

"What You Need To Know About Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma"

In this NCI booklet, you will read about possible causes, screening, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. You will also find ideas about how to cope with the disease.

  • Download the PDF file (NCI 2006, 44 pages): (pdf 2.4 MB).

ASCO Answers: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

ASCO Answers offers an overview of what the cancer is, an illustration of where the cancer starts, how it is treated, terms to know, and questions to ask the doctor.

  • Download the PDF file (American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2008. 2 pages): (pdf 290 KB).

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