Lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and is meant for filtering out bacteria and fighting diseases. The lymph nodes develop when the body is sick or fighting infection.
Lymph vessels get widened into lymph nodes and can be felt in the neck area or under the arms. When the cells in the lymph area start multiplying without any control, they can become cancerous. This condition is known as lymphoma cancer.
There are two groups of lymphoma; Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The development of the disease is same in both the groups but Hodgkin’s lymphoma is identified by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cell. There are many different types of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma mainly based on the location of the lymph tissue that is involved in the disease. Lymphatic tissue is present in many parts of the body. The latest classification of WHO lists 43 different forms of lymphoma divided in to four broad groups.
The WHO classification published in 2001 and updated in 2008 is the latest classification of lymphoma and is based on the ‘Revised European-American Lymphoma Classification (REAL). Here the lymphomas are grouped by cell type that resembles the tumor. These are mainly B cell, T cell, and natural killer cell tumors. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other less common groups are also recognized.
General symptoms of lymphoma include swelling of a lymph node, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, fevers, and feeling itchy. Other symptoms differ based on the type of lymphoma. So far the scientists are unable to identify the causes of lymphoma. However, risk factors have been identified. Risk factors include increased age, weak immune system, exposure to high level of radiation, infections such as HIV, AIDS and family history.
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