Cancers that originate in your lymphatic system are called lymphoma. Diagnosing and treating these cancers is an area of specialty for Jessica Taff, MD, of Coastal Hematology & Oncology Center serving the communities in and around Toms River and Forked River, New Jersey. For comprehensive lymphoma diagnostic and treatment services, call the office today to set up your appointment or book online.
Your lymphatic system is an interconnected network of organs and tissues that work to rid your body of waste materials, toxins, and other unwanted substances. It plays a critical role in your immune function and helps to fight off infection.
You have hundreds of lymph nodes throughout your body. These small, bean-shaped or round structures create immune cells called lymphocytes. Lymphatic vessels transport a clear fluid called lymph fluid throughout your lymphatic system in a manner similar to blood vessels.
As that fluid passes through your lymph nodes, it is filtered, removing foreign material like bacteria. If foreign substances are detected, your lymph nodes respond by producing extra white blood cells to fight off infection.
Lymphoma is a form of cancer that begins in your lymphocytes, which are located in your spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, bone marrow, and other areas of your body.
Knowing the signs of lymphoma can help you know when to seek a diagnostic evaluation. Some things to keep an eye out for include:
Lymphoma is more common in people above the age of 50, those with a compromised immune system, and men and women with the Epstein-Barr virus or Helicobacter pylori infection, although it can occur in men and women of any age.
Dr. Taff uses multiple diagnostic tools to detect signs of lymphoma. The process begins with a physical exam to check for swelling in the lymph nodes in your underarm, groin, and neck. Swelling can also occur in your spleen or liver.
Blood testing can also reveal signs of lymphoma. If Dr. Taff detects areas of concern, you might need to have a biopsy. Part or all of one or more lymph nodes can be removed and sent to a lab for testing. The results can determine if cancerous cells are present and if so, what types of cells are affected.
Bone marrow aspiration is another diagnostic procedure that is sometimes required. It involves the insertion of a needle into your hip bone to gather a sample of bone marrow cells for microscopic evaluation. Imaging tests like MRI, CT scans, and PET scanning can also inform the diagnostic process.
If you’re concerned about unusual changes and would like to come in for a comprehensive cancer screening, call Coastal Hematology & Oncology Center today to book an appointment, or use the online booking tool.