Lymphoma refers to a cancer that originates in the nodes or glands of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and functions to fight disease and infections. Some lymphomas start in lymph tissue in organs such as the brain or stomach.

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It helps the body fight infections. It also helps maintain fluid balance in different parts of the body. It is made of a series of thin tubes, called lymphatic vessels. These vessels collect fluid, called lymph, from different parts of the body. Similar to blood vessels, these vessels then carry the lymph back to the bloodstream. Lymph is a colorless, watery fluid that is rich in white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells play an important role in the immune system by protecting your body against infection. Lymphocytes form and are stored in lymph nodes, which are pea-sized collections of cells located throughout the body, such as in the armpit, groin, and neck area.

Organs of the lymphatic system

Some organs are also part of the lymphatic system. These include the spleen, thymus gland, adenoids, and tonsils, as well as the bone marrow.

  • The spleen is under the lower-left side of your rib cage. It produces lymphocytes, stores healthy blood cells, and filters out damaged blood cells and bacteria.
  • The thymus gland is in the front of the chest at the base of the neck. It is central in development of T lymphocytes.
  • Adenoids and tonsils are areas of lymphoid tissue at the back of the throat. They’re one of the first lines of defense against germs that you breathe in or swallow.
  • Bone marrow is the inner part of bones. It produces red blood cells, blood platelets, and white blood cells.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.

Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.

Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor about any clinical trials you should consider. Learn more about clinical trials for cancer patients.

Clinical trial eligibility flowcharts

Eligibility flowcharts map clinical trials to specific types of cancers to determine if a participant is eligible for the particular clinical trial. View all lymphoma eligibility flowcharts at the Stanford Cancer Institute.

Our Clinic

Learn more about the Stanford approach by visiting the Cancer Center
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