Everything you need to know about your nodes

  • Fantastic filters - Lymph nodes are small, kidney bean-shaped organs that are the filters of the lymphatic system. They clean the lymph fluid and lymphocytes, removing bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. The nodes are also responsible for the manufacture and storage of infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes.
  • White fight - A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell, which helps fight viruses or bacteria that cause infection.
  • Count 'em up - There are approximately 100 nodes from head to toe! They can be found anywhere in the body and are strategically located where bacteria are most commonly found.
  • Hide and seek - Lymph nodes can be felt in the armpits, the groin and the neck. There are many more that can't be felt, such as nodes in the stomach, pelvis and chest.
  • Three's company - Lymph nodes are symmetrical. During a regular physical examination, a doctor will feel and compare three pairs of matching lymph nodes to make sure they are healthy.
  • Up sizing - When working to fight an infection, the nodes become larger because they need more power to do their job. Lymph nodes may become tender when the body is fighting infection (such as “mono” or strep throat).
  • Know the name - Lymph nodes are sometimes incorrectly called “glands” or “lymph glands,” but they do not secrete anything and are therefore not glands.
  • Tree of life - The lymphatic system looks like a tree, with many outstretched branches called lymphatic vessels that act like channels carrying a colourless liquid called lymph. The lymphatic system looks a lot like the circulation system which carries blood through the body.
  • Defence system - The lymphatic system is a network of tissue, ducts and organs that is an important part of the immune system, playing a major role in the body's defence against infection and cancer.
  • Open wide - Tonsils, perhaps the best known part of the lymphatic system, are lymphatic organs. They work with the immune system to help prevent infections.

All about Lymphoma

  • Lymphoma is the most commonly occurring blood cancer and the third most common childhood cancer. Although the disease is becoming increasingly more common, many people are still unaware of lymphoma and that it is a life-threatening form of cancer.
  • There are more than 45 types of lymphoma. The two most common types are Hodgkin lymphoma, discovered by Thomas Hodgkin in 1832, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which breaks out into many different types. The different types of lymphoma affect different types of lymphocytes.
  • The signs and symptoms of lymphoma can often be mistaken for other less serious illnesses, like the flu. By knowing more about your nodes, the symptoms can be detected early and there is a better chance of quicker diagnosis, treatment and overall survival. For more information see our signs and symptoms page.
  • Approximately 900 people will be diagnosed with lymphoma this year, placing it in the top 6 most common cancers in New Zealand affecting children and adults (both men and women) in increasing numbers.
  • Nearly one million people around the world are living with lymphoma today. It is the fifth most common cancer in the world, yet there is no known cause and therefore no prevention or screening strategy, and more research is needed to better understand this type of cancer. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma has increased in incidence by 80% since the early 1970s.
  • For more information about lymphoma, contact Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand at www.leukaemia.org.nz or call on 0800 15 10 15.