Haematological research is concerned with diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs. Frequent blood diseases include acute and chronic leukaemia (blood cancer) as well as malignant changes in the lymph nodes (lymphoma).
Irrespective of their later function, all blood cells develop from common precursors called stem cells. In the red bone marrow and lymphoid tissues (lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, thymus and intestinal mucosa), these mature to full functionality and are then released into the bloodstream.
Image: With its wide range of transport and linking functions, the blood ensures the functionality of tissues and organs.
Disturbances to this complex process can lead to degeneration as well as the uncontrolled multiplication of cells in the blood and lymphoid organs. Depending on the cell type and stage of development, different syndromes with different progressions may arise.
The lymphatic system branches out through the body via thin tubes, called lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic system comprises all the lymphatic vessels and organs. These include the lymph nodes, the spleen, the lymphatic tissue in the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. the Peyer’s patches of the small intestine) and the pharynx (throat, tongue, and tonsils), and the thymus gland.
The lymphatic vessels contain lymph, a colourless liquid containing the lymphocytes, a form of white blood cells. The lymph nodes – small, bean-shaped organs – are found along the lymphatic vessels. Groups of lymph nodes are mainly found in the underarm, pelvis, groin, neck, and abdomen.
The lymphatic system defends against pathogens and other foreign substances and removes endogenous degradation products e.g. cellular debris. Lymphocytes migrate through the body in the blood and lymphatic vessels. Like the leukocytes, they are counted as white blood cells. In healthy condition, they are primarily involved in immune defence.
Image: The lymphatic system includes all lymphatic vessels and organs of the human organism. The cells of this system are the lymphocytes, a group of white blood cells that primarily serves in immune defence.
Because lymphatic tissue is found in many areas of the body, malignant changes can occur in nearly every part of the body. Cancer can spread to almost any organ or tissue of the body, including the liver, bone marrow, spleen, and nose/throat. The various types of lymphoma show substantial differences in disease progression and require different treatment strategies – from expectant observation without therapy to aggressive chemotherapy.
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