Cancer is bad (localized or spread to lymph nodes), that is something we all know by now, and only effective management option working for the patient and thereby helping them sustain the disease can make it better or good. But is there a golden rule that can help us outline or categorize how bad cancer has become or is there still a scope of improvement somewhere?
The answer to this, would not be a complete YES, however, research suggests that one can watch out for certain symptoms and changes in the body functions at first and decide the progression of cancer. Of course, this needs to be validated with an effective diagnosis, which will help the clinician decide the treatment regime going forward.
The adversity of cancer is well-judged taking into account different factors; these include the stage and spread of cancer. Research suggests that once the cancer is spread to the lymph nodes, it is definitely altering its nature from being contained to a metastatic/ fast-spreading cancer. So yes, cancer spreading to the lymph nodes is indicative of increased progression/ metastatic cancer.
What are lymph nodes and what do they do?
The human immune system comprises of a lymphatic system which primarily comprises of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes. The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing toxins, waste and unwanted material from the human body. These are kidney bean-shaped and are present in clusters comprising of immune cells in the human body. With more than 600 lymph nodes present in the human body, they are present under the armpits, groin region, middle of the chest and in the belly. The primary function of lymph nodes is to filter out the germs and waste from the body.
Some of the common symptoms that suggest that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes include:
- Lump or swelling in the neck, under the arms or in the groin
- Swelling in the stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Seizures or dizziness
Needless to say, these symptoms are not inclusive, however, if one experiences symptoms such as one of those mentioned above, make sure to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Why do we a swelling in Lymph nodes?
So when cancer progresses and spreads to the lymph nodes there are more immune cells (due to increased disease more immune cells are needed now) in these they clear out germs and waste from the body. Swollen lymph nodes are a common symptom of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or cancer. Therefore, it is fairly important to diagnose the reason for the swelling. It would be best to see a doctor, in case you feel the lymph nodes becoming hardy, bigger than normal (forming lumpy spots).
Can cancer initiate in the lymph nodes itself? And how serious can that get?
The answer is yes. Cancer may have initiated in some other part of the body and migrated to the lymph nodes or may have started in the lymph nodes itself. Cancer that begins in the cells of the lymph system is termed as Lymphoma (a form of blood cancer). With the lymph nodes present in the whole human body, the lymphoma can initiate in any part of the body. Broadly, there are two types of lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In the case of Hodgkin lymphoma, cancer can start in lymph nodes anywhere in the body and is common in the two types. In non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the cancer is usually diagnosed only when it has reached an advanced stage.
The lymphatic system is one of the most important internal fighting mechanisms of the body (as it involves the immune cells) is critical to the health of the human body. Therefore, yes on experiencing changes in the human body with respect to lymph nodes, make sure you do not cause a delay in the effective diagnosis of the disease.