Lymph Node DisordersLymph node disorders
The lymph nodes are the body’s natural defence and filter against the spread of a number of diseases, including infection and malignancy. They are also subject to primary disorders of growth known collectively as lymphomas.
Many patients present with enlarged lymph nodes which require a confident and early diagnosis to exclude serious disease or to expedite appropriate treatment.
Lymph nodes are found throughout the body. Enlarged lymph nodes are commonly found:
-In the neck: the cervical nodes
-In the armpit: the axillary nodes
-Above the collar bone: the supraclavicular nodes
-In the groins: the inguinal nodes
-At the elbow: the trochlear nodes
Lymph nodes and infection
Lymph nodes are frequency enlarged in response to a variety of infections, including
Glandular fever (infectious mononucleosis) and Tuberculosis.
Lymph nodes contain a range of types of white cells, the bodies natural defence against infection. Uncontrolled growth of these white cells can cause one or more lymph nodes to enlarge and produce a range of tumours of the lymphatic system of varying severity.
Lymphomas are usually diagnosed by careful examination of surgically excised samples. They are characterised in detail by immunophenotyping, which is the process of measuring a panel of molecular markers which are unique to each cell type. This may be done by flow or laser scanning cytometry, LSC. LSC allows full immunophenotyping using fine needle aspiration cytology..
Lymphoma research is a particular interest of the Southampton Oncology Unit. This includes studies on the development of anti-lymphoma vaccines on a case by case basis.
Surgical biopsies of lymph nodes are usually done under local anaesthetic as a day case procedure.
Lymph nodes and cancer
Many cancers metastasise (spread) to lymph nodes. Diagnosis of the disease in a lymph node may be the first clue to the presence of the disease elsewhere in the body.
Text provided by Mr David Rew, Copyright 2003