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Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system. It is also called Hodgkin disease. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer. It begins in the part of the immune system called the lymph system. The lymph system is made up of an intricate network of immune cells, small blood-vessel-like structures called lymphatics, and lymph nodes. It also includes organs made primarily of immune cells such as the spleen and thymus gland. The lymph (or lymphatic) system helps fights infections and other diseases.
The lymph system includes:
Lymph: A clear fluid that carries white blood cells (especially lymphocytes) through the lymph system. White blood cells help fight infection.
Lymph vessels: A network of thin tubes. They carry lymph from different parts of the body to the bloodstream.
Lymph nodes: Small masses of tissue that store white blood cells. They also remove bacteria and other substances from the lymph. Lymph nodes reside in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and groin.
Spleen: An organ near the stomach that:
Filters the blood
Stores blood cells
Destroys old blood cells
Thymus gland: a gland of lymphocytes that are important in immune function especially in children and young adults
The lymph system also consists of the thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow and gastrointestinal tract.
Hodgkin lymphoma can begin almost anywhere. It can spread to almost any tissue or organ. The disease starts when a change occurs to the genetic material of a lymphocyte. This turns the lymphocyte into a large, abnormal cell. Hodgkin lymphoma is distinguished by these unique cancer cells, called Reed-Sternberg cells. The abnormal cells begin dividing out of control. They often go on to form tumor masses in lymph nodes and elsewhere.
Most patients with Hodgkin lymphoma can be cured or have their disease controlled for many years.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a group of about 30 different blood cancers. It is also called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, NHL, or lymphoma.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma begins in the lymph system. The lymph (or lymphatic) system is part of the immune system. It collects and destroys invading organisms such as viruses and abnormal cells. The lymph system protects the body from infection and disease.
The lymph system is a network of tissue, vessels, and fluid (lymph). Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system. They filter lymph and store white blood cells (lymphocytes).
Lymph nodes are located in the neck, underarms, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and groin. Lymph tissue also resides in the spleen, thymus gland, tonsils, bone marrow, and digestive system.
Lymphatic tissue is composed mainly of lymphocytes. There are two main types of lymphocytes:
B cells make proteins called antibodies that kill bacteria or viruses.
T cells play several different roles in the immune system.
Most cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma develop from B lymphocytes.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma starts when a lymphocyte changes into an abnormal cell that begins dividing out of control. These abnormal cells often form masses (tumors) in lymphatic tissue such as lymph nodes.
Because lymph tissue is located throughout the body, NHL can begin almost anywhere and spread to other tissues and organs.
NHL is different from Hodgkin's disease. Patients with Hodgkin's disease are generally younger than those with NHL. They also have a specific type of abnormal cell in their cancerous lymph nodes and different symptoms. Treatments also vary.
Anal cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the anus. The anus is the end of the large intestine, through which solid waste leaves the body. The treatments for anal cancer and rectal cancer can differ. Doctors need to know the exact location and the specific type of cell that has become cancerous in order to choose the right treatment.
The body stores digestive waste (feces) in the rectum, the lower part of the large intestine. The feces travel through the anal canal, a short tube that connects the rectum to the anal opening where they are passed as a bowel movement.
Several types of cells line the anal canal. Anal glands, which lie underneath the lining, lubricate the anal canal to ease bowel movements.
Several types of tumors can form in the anus. These include noncancerous tumors and cancerous tumors that can spread to other parts of the body. Some noncancerous growths can turn cancerous over time.
Risk factors for anal cancer include:
Infection with the human papillomavirus virus (HPV). HPV causes wart-like growths around the anus. The subtype HPV-16 has a particularly strong connection to anal cancer risk. However, most people with HPV do not develop anal cancer.
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is the virus that causes AIDS.
Prior history of cervical, vaginal or vulvar cancer
Multiple sexual partners
Frequent anal redness, swelling, and soreness
Abnormal anal openings (fistulas)
Weakened immune system
Prolonged use of steroid medicines, especially for patients who have had an organ transplant.
Some people who develop anal cancer have no known risk factors.
Chondrosarcoma is a type of cancer closely related to bone cancer. However, chondrosarcoma forms in cartilage, the tough but flexible tissue that pads the ends of bones and lines joints, not in the bone tissue itself.
This cancer usually develops in the cartilage that lines the bones of the pelvis, thigh, shoulder, ribs, or arm. However, one rare type of chondrosarcoma develops in the soft tissues, such as the muscles, nerves, or fat, of the arms and legs. The disease can also develop from an existing noncancerous (benign) tumor close to the bone. But in most cases, doctors don't know why it develops.
Once a chondrosarcoma has formed, it may grow rapidly or slowly. It can invade nearby tissues and spread (metastasize) to cartilage and bones elsewhere in the body. It can also spread to other tissues and organs, such as the lungs.
If cancer spreads (metastasizes) to the bones or cartilage from a cancer in another part of the body, such as the breast, it is not a chondrosarcoma. Rather, it is called metastatic breast cancer.
Chondrosarcoma can occur at any age, but it mainly affects adults over age 40. It rarely occurs in children.
Osteosarcoma is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in bone. Although it is the most common type of bone cancer, it is rare.
Osteosarcoma typically appears as a mass of abnormal bone in an arm or leg, usually near the knee or shoulder. Less often, the tumor develops in the pelvic bones, jaw, or ribs. It rarely develops in the fingers or toes. At the time of diagnosis, 10% to 20% of osteosarcomas have spread (metastasized) to another part of the body, usually the lungs.
More than half of osteosarcomas develop in people between the ages of 10 and 20, usually during a growth spurt. Young people have a higher risk of developing the disease if they have had eye cancer or Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
About one-third of osteosarcomas strike adults between the ages of 40 and 50. The disease is more common in men than women. Adults are at higher risk if they have a history of Paget's disease or radiation therapy for cancer.
Vulvar cancer occurs in the vulva, the external genital area of a woman's reproductive system. It can affect any part of the vulva, including the labia, the mons pubis (the skin and tissue that cover the pubic bone), the clitoris, or the vaginal or urethral openings. In most cases, it affects the inner edges of the labia majora or labia minora.
The vast majority of vulvar cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. This cancer starts in squamous cells, the main type of skin cells. Squamous cell cancer usually develops over many years. Before it forms, abnormal cells usually develop in the surface layer of the skin, called the epithelium. This condition is called vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN).
Adrenocortical carcinomais a cancer of the adrenal gland. The condition is also called cancer of the adrenal cortex, adrenal cortical cancer, or adrenocortical cancer. This cancer is very rare.
The adrenal gland is a small organ above the kidney. It makes important hormones. There are two adrenal glands in the body. One sits on top of each kidney. Adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. Your endocrine system helps regulate body activities.
Adrenocortical carcinoma develops in the outer layer of the adrenal gland. This layer is called the cortex. It produces hormones that
help control blood pressure
balance water and salt in the body
help manage the body's use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates
cause a person to have male or female characteristics.
Adrenocortical cancer can spread to other parts of the body including the lungs, liver, or bones.
Small lumps on the adrenal gland are not uncommon. They are usually benign (noncancerous) growths called adrenal adenomas. In some cases, doctors may have trouble distinguishing an adenoma from a cancer, so you may need special testing or repeat examinations.
Another type of adrenal gland tumor, called a pheochromocytoma, can develop in the inner part of the gland, or adrenal medulla. However, this article will only discuss cancers that arise in the adrenal cortex.
Glioblastoma multiforme is a fast-growing brain or spinal cord tumor. It affects the brain more often than the spinal cord. These tumors grow from glial cells which form the (supportive) tissue of the brain and spinal cord. Glioblastoma multiforme is also called glioblastoma, grade IV astrocytoma, or GBM.
As it grows, a brain tumor can press against or damage nerves or other structures. This can interfere with the brain's normal functioning. For example, a brain tumor can disrupt:
Scientists do not know what causes most brain tumors. However, they are working to better understand the biology of glioblastoma multiforme and identify possible environmental, occupational, family, and genetic risk factors.
A metastatic brain tumor is cancer that has spread (metastasized) from another part of the body to the brain. It is also called a secondary tumor, lesion or brain metastasis (plural: metastases). In contrast, a primary brain tumor starts in the brain, not in another part of the body.
A tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue. It occurs when cells divide more than they should or don't die when they should.
Cancers that spread to the brain can originate in any part of the body. The original tumor is called the primary tumor. Metastatic brain tumors most commonly originate in the lung, breast, skin, colon, and kidney. A very aggressive form of skin cancer called melanoma often spreads to the brain.
Brain metastases occur when cancer cells break away from a primary tumor. They travel to the brain, usually through the bloodstream. These cancer cells may settle in the brain and continue growing. Sometimes only one secondary brain tumor occurs. But in many cases there are multiple lesions.
The brain is a complex organ enclosed in the skull. Among other things, it serves as the body's center of
Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) is a rare, slow-growing cancer. It is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. WM is also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma.
WM begins in the immune system. It starts in white blood cells called B lymphocytes (B cells). B cells play a key role in the body's immune system. Some B cells develop into plasma cells. Plasma cells make antibodies (also called immunoglobulins). Antibodies help the body attack bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances.
Sometimes B cells become cancerous before turning into mature plasma cells. These abnormal B cells multiply out of control. They produce large amounts of IgM antibody (immunoglobulin M). High levels of IgM can cause a person's blood to thicken. This makes it harder for blood to flow through the body. (Multiple myeloma, another form of cancer of plasma cells, causes similar abnormalities. The type of immunoglobulin the cells produce helps distinguish one from the other.)
As they grow out of control, lymphoma cells can crowd out the cells that normally develop into healthy blood cells. This can lead to low numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Low levels of these blood cells trigger many of the symptoms associated with WM.
The cells involved in WM grow mostly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue inside most bones.
WM mainly affects older adults. It is not curable, but it is usually treatable.