A cancer that starts in lymphatic tissue is Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The lymph nodes and related organs that are part of the body’s immune and blood-forming systems are contained to lymphatic tissue. The lymph nodes are small and can be found underneath the skin in the neck, underarm, and groin. They can be founded in other places in the body such as inside the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

Lymph nodes make and store infection-fighting white blood cells, called lymphocytes that are connected throughout the body by lymph vessels. A colorless, watery fluid (lymphatic fluid) that contains lymphocytes is carried by lymph vessels. Into the blood vessels in the left upper chest is emptied the lymphatic fluid.

The spleen, the bone marrow and the thymus are other components of the lymphatic system. An organ in the left side of the upper abdomen that is composed primarily of mature and immature lymphocytes is the spleen which removes old cells and other debris from the blood. The spongy tissue inside the bones that creates new red and white blood cells including lymphocytes is the bone marrow. A small organ in the chest that is important in developing a special lymphocyte called a T cell is the thymus.

Hodgkin’s disease can start almost anywhere because lymphatic tissue is present in many parts of the body but often starts in lymph nodes in the upper part of the body like chest, neck, or under the arms. A pressure on important structures can be caused by Hodgkin’s disease that enlarges the lymphatic tissue. It can spread through the lymphatic vessels to other lymph nodes. Hodgkin’s disease spreads to nearby lymph node sites in the body. Rarely it gets into the blood vessels and can spread to almost any other site in the body, including the liver and lungs.

Many reasons may cause enlargement of lymph nodes. Enlarged lymph nodes are more commonly a result of the body fighting an infection.

A malignant lymphoma (cancer of lymphatic tissue) is Hodgkin’s disease. There are two kinds of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. The cancer cells in Hodgkin’s disease are called Reed-Sternberg cells. These cells look different from cells of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and other cancers. It is believed that Reed-Sternberg cells are a type of malignant B lymphocyte. The cells that make antibodies that help fight infections is normal B lymphocytes.

The two main types are classical Hodgkin’s disease (which has several subtypes) and nodular predominant Hodgkin’s disease. The subtypes of classical Hodgkin’s disease are: lymphocyte predominance, nodular sclerosis, mixed cellularity, lymphocyte depletion. In the case of nodular predominant Hodgkin’s disease lymphocyte are predominant.

Because they grow, they may compress, invade, destroy normal tissue and spread to other tissues these types are malignant. Unfortunately a benign (non cancerous) form is not present in Hodgkin’s disease.