Lymph node cancer is a type of cancer whose main target is the lymphatic system and which destroys it completely. Early detection and treatment can help bring this disease under control.
The lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system, is one of the most vital systems in the body. It is made up of the lymph nodes, which consist of the lymph and white blood cells, also known as lymphocytes. These cells act as the defense mechanism of the body and protect it from an attack of disease causing germs like bacteria and virus. The occipital lymph node can be found on the back of the head near the occipital bone. Its main function is to warn the system of an infection and trigger the production of antibodies to fight against that infection. Sometimes, the lymphocytes tend to behave in an abnormal way and grow at a rapid pace. This abnormal growth of cells can result in lymph node cancer, which can be life-threatening if not diagnosed in time.
There are two types of this cancer, as it is known in medical terms, – Hodgkin’s disease and Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s disease is rare in nature and usually spreads from one lymph node to another. Though the cause of this disease is not yet known, many doctors believe that genetic mutations is the main causative factor. This cancer is more common in people who suffer from HIV infections. Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a more common type, which also affects the nearby organs. A family history of this cancer can also be one of the causative factors for this disease.
This disease is mostly observed in men rather than women. But, it does not mean that women are spared. Given below are some of the symptoms, which can be indicative of the presence of this health disorder.
- The first signs are swollen lymph nodes. These swellings are usually hard when touched and grow in the armpits, groin, abdomen, etc., if these enlarged bumps are infected, they can even become tender. They are also very common behind the ear.
- Some individuals may complain of pain while touching the bumps. This may be due to an infection in the swelling. When it occurs in the neck, it can cause difficulty in swallowing. This condition may also be triggered due to a sore throat, tonsillitis, common cold, etc.
- When the cancer progresses to the abdominal region, it can lead to a feeling of fullness, loss of appetite and edema or water retention. The individual may also complain of indigestion, difficulty in bowel movements, and unexplained weight loss.
- Another symptom is the problem of impaired cognitive ability as a result of the cancer spreading to the brain. Some other symptoms are seizures, itching sores, general body weakness, lethargy, and headaches, which may range from mild to severe.
Diagnosis is a very essential factor in order to detect the exact type of cancer and administer the correct treatment. The patient may have to undergo a series of tests, like blood tests, whole body X-ray, MRI, and CT scans. The treatment usually depends on the stages in which cancer is detected. During the initial stages, when the symptoms are moderate, certain medications are administered, which can reduce the swelling. Chemotherapy and radiation are used for treatment in its advanced stages. The survival rate depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed, the spread, and the response of the patient to the treatments. A regular medical checkup is essential to prevent the onset of this deadly disease.
It is very essential to detect the presence of this disorder in its early stages to improve the chances of recovery and increase the survival rates. If you doubt you have a hard lump or swelling in the lymph nodes, visit a health care provider as a precautionary measure.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.