29 February 2012

What Does It Mean If the Cancer Has Spread to the Lymph Nodes?

Probably the first thought that comes to mind when told that the cancer you were diagnosed with spread to lymph nodes, is that I am condemned. Is this the case? There is every reason to think that because our body has a network of lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes. The transport of a clear liquid called lymph fluid, the main purpose of this network is to collect things fluid, and other debris that are in the body tissues.

The lymphatic system, part of the body's immune system, lymph roads throughout the body through the nodes.

Lymph nodes work as filters, contain immune cells that attack and destroy germs in the lymphatic fluid. The fluid filter and debris nodes that have been picked up by the lymphatic network conduit. For example, the liquid head, scalp and face flows through the nodes in the neck. Slowly making its way around the body fluid makes his way back to the chest. It filtered fluid is discharged into the bloodstream.

There are two ways cancer can occur in lymph nodes. It can start in the node, lymphoma, caused by the abnormal growth of white blood cells filled in the node. Or it has spread there from elsewhere, a secondary or metastatic cancer.

Cancer cells detach from the tumor, the main site, and travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream. When the lymphatic system, cancer cells can enter lymph node and die or be destroyed before the cancer begins to develop. Usually, cancer cells will affect the lymph nodes that are near the primary site of cancer. For example, thyroid cancer will affect the lymph nodes in the neck near the thyroid gland.

If the cancer cell is housed in the node, to survive he must overcome the body's natural defenses and acquire its own blood supply. As the tumor grows, it causes lymph nodes to become inflamed and more.

When a large nodule is found, the doctor may do a biopsy fine needle. With the use of a very fine needle, the tissue is extracted from the node and looked under a microscope by a pathologist. If there is cancer in the nodule, the cells will resemble the cells of the primary tumor. Therefore, when cancer cells break away from the thyroid gland and thyroid spread to lymph nodes, cells in the node looks like cancer cells of the thyroid.

During surgery for a primary cancer, the surgeon will remove one or more lymph nodes in the region. These will be sent to a pathologist for biopsy.

The information in this biopsy will determine the risk of cancer recurrence, and whether treatment will be most needed after surgery.

What does it mean if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes? That's all depend on the pathology report. If there are very few cancer cells present in the node, the standard treatment for primary cancer may be all that necessary. Unfortunately, if there are many cancer cells found in the nodules, it may mean that cancer is more aggressive, with the possibility of having spread the rest of the body.

The treatment protocol when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes will depend on how much it has spread. If the cancer is only in the local nodes of the primary cancer, surgery may be all you need. When the cancer has spread to lymph farther from the primary tumor, there will probably need additional treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

If cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes, this does not mean that cancer can not be controlled. In the case of thyroid cancer, once the thyroid was removed, patients will have a whole body scan radioactive. If this analysis shows suspicious lymph nodes, a fine needle biopsy can be performed to determine if cancer cells of the thyroid there or not. In some cases, surgery may be performed to remove these suspicious nodules, a radical neck dissection.