What Are Lymph Nodes and What Is Their Function?

We often come across the term lymph nodes, particularly in connection with cancers, their progress and their spread. Yet the lymph nodes are not something that we know much else about.Lymph Nodes

As we know the location, approximate appearance and function of the other organs of the body such as the heart, the liver, and kidneys, we are not similarly aware of what the lymph do or what they are.

What are the lymph nodes?

Lymph nodes are small round or oval shaped organs that are found in different areas of the body such as the armpits, the groin and so on.

The lymphatic system consists of the lymph nodes as well as the lymphatic vessels that link the lymph nodes to each other.

There are some five to six hundred lymph nodes in the human body and these are found throughout the body.

These are clustered in areas such as the armpits, the abdomen, the groin, neck, and chest and so on.

The size of lymph nodes can range between a few millimeters in size to a couple of centimeters. However when they become infected or inflamed due to a cancer or even in other innocuous situations such as a sore throat; they then become swollen or enlarged.

Functions of lymph nodes

The lymph nodes are collections of some of the most important immune cells of the body and they work to filter foreign particles that could be inimical to the body. The lymph nodes are an important constituent of the immune system and it is here that the soldiers of the body, the white blood cells are to be found in abundance. The lymph nodes also perform the function of moving waste material and nutrients around the body.

What do swollen or painful lymph nodes mean?

There are various causes for swelling or pain in the lymph nodes: viral infections as well as other types of infections can cause pain and swelling. Inflammation can also result in pain and swelling. In serious cases, it could be the presence of cancerous tumors that cause the pain and swelling. In cases, there could be the uncontrolled multiplication of white blood cells (lymphoma or leukemia) that causes the problem.

When the cancer affects the lymph nodes and enters the lymphatic system, this is very dangerous because the cancer cells then are able to be metastasize (migrate to distant locations) and the cancer is then seen to spread from one to another organ or location of the body.