Anatomy & Hodgkin's Disease

The lymphatic system, which is the target of lymphoma, includes the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, ducts, and other organs that make up the immune and blood-forming (hematopoietic) elements of the body.

The lymph nodes are oval, pea-sized organs. They are found beneath the skin throughout the body, along the route of large blood vessels. Lymph nodes are grouped in areas such as the neck, underarms, groin, abdomen (trunk), and pelvis (hips) and are linked by narrow tubes called lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic vessels carry lymph, a colorless liquid that is collected from the body's tissues; chyle, a milky fluid taken from food in the intestine during digestion; lymphocytes, specialized white blood cells; and other blood cells. Lymphatic fluids and cells ultimately are funneled back into the bloodstream through a large vein in the left upper chest.

Other organs that contain lymphatic tissue and can be affected by Hodgkin's lymphoma include the following:

  • Spleen (ductless gland located on the left side of the body under the lower rib cage, which produces lymphocytes and other infection-fighting cells, stores healthy blood cells, and filters the blood)
  • Thymus gland (located in front of the heart; produces immature T-cells that, when mature, are involved in immune system responses)
  • Bone marrow (inner region of the bones)
  • Adenoids (located in the post-nasal area)
  • Tonsils (rounded masses of lymphatic tissue located at the back of the throat)

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015