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8

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia, Version 1.2017

1

Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia

The lymphatic system

Part 1 talks about Waldenström’s

macroglobulinemia (WM), which is a type

of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a rare

type of lymphoma. Lymphoma is a type

of cancer that starts in the cells of the

immune system. It can start anywhere in

the body. It is helpful to learn about the

lymphatic system and what can be done

to treat cancer that starts here.

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a part of your immune

system. Your immune system defends the body

against infection and disease. An infection is caused

by germs like bacteria, viruses, or fungi that enter the

body and grow out of control. Disease is a medical

condition like cancer. Cancer can also grow and

spread in your body (metastasize).

The lymphatic system can be found throughout your

body. It is made up of lymph, lymph vessels, and

lymphatic tissue:

†

†

Lymph

is clear fluid that contains disease-

fighting white blood cells.

†

†

Lymph vessels

are tube-shaped ducts that

carry lymph throughout the body.

†

†

Lymphatic tissue:

Lymph nodes are groups of small round

structures throughout the body.

The spleen is an organ that is to the left of

the stomach, tucked under the rib cage.

The thymus is a gland of the immune

system that is located behind the top of the

breastbone.

Bone marrow is soft, sponge-like tissue

found in the center of most bones, where

blood cells are formed.

Other sites of lymphatic tissue are in the

system that breaks down food (digestive

system) and in the breathing system

(respiratory system).

Lymph

Fluids and plasma leak out of your blood vessels and

move around the tissues in your body. Cells release

waste and other products into this tissue fluid as well.

When tissue fluid increases, it drains into vessels.

Some of the tissue fluid drains back into blood

vessels. The rest of it drains into lymph vessels.

The fluid inside the lymph vessels is called lymph.

The lymph fluid contains white blood cells that

fight disease. It also contains plasma, which is the

yellowish liquid part of blood that carries blood cells.

Lymph travels in lymph vessels, through the lymph

nodes to the neck area, to the heart, and back to the

bloodstream.

As lymph travels, it is filtered by your lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are a small group of disease-fighting

cells. These disease fighting cells make up masses

of lymphoid tissue, which form lymph nodes. Lymph

nodes are near the lymph vessels throughout your

body. The lymph nodes can be found in the middle

of your chest, neck, armpit, groin, pelvis, and along

your gut.