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Author Topic: How is cancer spread via the lymphatic system?  (Read 2993 times)

Offline graham.d

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How is cancer spread via the lymphatic system?
« on: 31/01/2010 11:33:19 »
I have known a number of people who have been apparently successfully operated on to cure a cancer who have then subsequently died as a result of secondary cancers. Most recently, a person (heavy smoker) had a tumour removed from the tongue and also had the lymph nodes removed but died from cancer in both lungs less than a year later.

Does this imply these cancers result from a common agent that can somehow move from one cell to another and via the lymphatic system? Or is it that cancerous cells themselves are the carriers and it is "rogue cells" in the lymphatic system that move the disease about?


 

Offline graham.d

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How is cancer spread via the lymphatic system?
« Reply #1 on: 10/02/2010 08:45:42 »
I had given up getting any answer to this once it got relegated to the second page in the forum, but I can now answer it myself thanks to a very good programme on BBC R4 last night (9pm, 9th February, 2010 if anyone wants to listen again on Iplayer).

The agent for spreading the cancer is the cancer cells themselves that get through the barriers into either the blood or the lymphatic system. An interesting fact is that there are often cases where the primary cancer has produced no significant symptoms so the cancer is only discovered from symptoms relating to secondary cancers. It can even turn out that the primary site never gets discovered. Unfortunately these are often the most difficult to treat because it is never clear what treatment will work and the cancer can then be in multiple organs. If a primary cancer is found prior to spreading (mestasasizing) then there is a good chance of it being treatable.

Another fact is that every cancer attacks the DNA in a cell in different ways so one person's lung cancer can be completely different, at a genetic level, from another. The common factor being that the cells' command and control systems are disrupted so it does not "know" how to position itself with respect to other cells or how to regulate its reproduction - but also loses the fail-safe self destruct system when such events occur.

Long Live the BBC.
 

Offline Geezer

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How is cancer spread via the lymphatic system?
« Reply #2 on: 10/02/2010 18:31:47 »
Graham: Missed your original post, although it's unlikely I would have been able to address it.

However, I can add a bit of first hand experience that might provide more info. I had seminoma 25 years ago. It was operable (as it frequently is, fortunately) and they also removed several lymph nodes for biopsy. Had the tumor metastasised, the lymph node biopsies would have revealed that. Fortunately, in my case they were clear, so I only had to receive some localized radiation treatment after the op.
 

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How is cancer spread via the lymphatic system?
« Reply #2 on: 10/02/2010 18:31:47 »

 

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