Lymph nodes are an important part of the body’s immune system. These tissues are of huge importance in preventing the body from any infections and also cancer.
Our body has a lymphatic system that runs throughout the body. This lymphatic system is made up of lymph nodes and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels perform the function of carrying a fluid which they collect from different tissues present throughout the body. This is a clear fluid and is called lymph. It consists of many unwanted substances like viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells. This fluid then reaches the lymph nodes and gets drained there. It is filtered in the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes contain our body’s warriors, that is, the infection-fighting cells, known as white blood cells. These cells filter the lymph and destroy the bad substances, the ones that are infection and cancer causing.
If these cells within the lymph nodes are fighting off an infection or cancer, the lymph nodes get swollen or enlarged. This swelling is called adenopathy and as the swelling is in the lymph glands, it is known as lymphadenopathy.
Are Cancerous Lymph Nodes Painful?
The cancerous lymph node which is swollen may be painful. An infected lymph node surely is painful, and it is a common occurrence. The other signs and symptoms may be very similar to some other disease and hence the diagnosis many times becomes problematic. Signs and symptoms like fever, weight loss which is sudden and unexplained, loss of appetite, anorexia, tiredness and fatigue, coughing and breathlessness, headaches, etc. may be present.
The cancer occurring in the lymphatic system is called a lymphoma. The lymphatic system comprises of the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and some lymphatic organs. A lymphoma can affect one or all of these areas and also the other organs of the body.
Swelling of the lymph nodes can be seen in some cancers. The cancer can start in the lymph nodes (lymphoma), or it may spread to the lymph nodes from somewhere else in the body.
The cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, most likely shows symptoms like pain and swelling or either of the two. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma are the examples of cancers starting in the lymphatic system.
If a cancer starts somewhere else in the body and spreads to the lymph nodes, it is known as metastasis. Such type of cancer is named after the organ it started in, even if it spreads to the lymph nodes.
Some symptoms can be seen depending upon the organ close to which the lymph nodes are enlarged. In such instances, there might be a degree of pain caused due to the compromised functioning of the affected organs.
Causes of Lymphoma
While it is not certain as to why the lymphoma is caused, it is believed that when a lymphocyte undergoes some genetic mutation, it results in lymphoma. As a result, the cells multiply very quickly, without the old cells dying. Also, the diseased cells will keep on growing instead of dying. This will result in the accumulation of too many unhealthy cells in the lymph node, which makes the lymph node swollen. These may or may not be painful. However, infected lymph nodes are surely painful.
Treatment of Lymphoma
Cancerous lymph nodes or lymphoma is of many types. The treatment of the cancerous lymph nodes depends upon the type of the disease and also on the stage that the disease has progressed to. Also, a person’s overall health is taken into consideration before deciding upon the course of the treatment. The doctor will tailor the treatment with keeping in mind the target of destroying as many cancerous cells as possible.
Out of the two primary types of lymphoma, the Hodgkin lymphoma is a curable type of cancer. However, as is said many times, early and efficient diagnosis is the key in complete recovery from any disease.