This cancer attacks the lymphatic system, particularly the lymph nodes and the spleen. These organs manufacture lymphocytes (cells that protect the body against infection).
The lymph system is the body's drainage system. It is composed of a network of vessels and small structures called lymph nodes. The lymph vessels convey excess fluid collected from all over the body back into the blood circulation.
The first symptom of lymphoma is usually a swollen spleen or swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin. Fever and sweating are later symptoms. If these symptoms persist, a doctor should be consulted. If the doctor suspects cancer, a biopsy of the enlarged organ will probably be ordered.
There are two major forms of lymphoma: Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In recent years, there have been dramatic strides in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease. In the early stages, radiation alone can be very effective. Later in the course of the disease, more extensive radiation or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be required.
Treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is much the same as that of Hodgkin's disease. In the past, this form of lymphoma was usually discovered too late for treatment, but recent advances have made long periods of remission possible in many cases.
On our final page we learn about urinary tract cancers.
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