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Cancer of the lymph nodes, more commonly known as lymphoma, consists of several types of malignant cancers whose common point is an uncontrolled proliferation of lymphoid cells, immune cells, but which do not originate from the bone marrow, unlike leukemia in which the abnormal growth begins in the bone. Among the different types of lymphomas, Hodgkin's lymphoma, or Hodgkin's disease, characterized by a particular type of cell (the Reed-Sternberg), is conventionally distinguished from other types of lymphomas, called non-Hodgkin lymphomas. The difference between them is a matter for specialists, and depends on the type of cell that multiplies. Most of the time, no cause is found to explain the occurrence of lymphoma in an individual, but certain types of viruses or bacteria are associated with a higher incidence of lymphoma, particularly in immunocompromised patients, i.e. those whose immune systems are weakened. Lymphomas can affect all organs of the human body.


In the case of cancer of the lymph nodes, we can notice mainly a swelling of the latter. They are visible and palpable in the neck, armpits, chest or groin in particular. They are still painless and mobile. Moreover, the spleen often increases in volume, called splenomegaly, and liver grows as well, called hepatomegaly. Other signs are often associated, such as weight loss, fatigue, excessive sweating and sometimes fever.


Cancer of the lymph nodes is often suspected when swollen glands are found. The diagnosis is made by different techniques of analyzing the lymph node in question to precisely define the type of lymphoma. A staging is then performed to search for the extent of the damage and to determine which other organs may have been affected by the lymphoma. Depending on the result of these examinations, a classification will assess the stage of lymphoma, which will determine the treatment that is needed.


Lymphoma treatment will depend on its nature and its staging. It is possible, for example, to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma by radiotherapy. When irradiating cancer cells, surrounding healthy cells are also partially destroyed, hence the need to better target the tumor. We may also use chemotherapy, sometimes in combination with radiotherapy. For non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, treatment is usually done only by chemotherapy, and the drugs used will depend on the type of lymphoma.