Leukaemia and the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system helps protect us from infection and disease. Sometimes leukaemia cells can affect the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It helps to protect us from infection and disease. It also drains fluid from the tissues of the body before returning it to the blood.

It is made up of white blood cells called lymphocytes and organs such as the bone marrow, thymus, spleen and lymph nodes. There are lymph nodes throughout the body connected by a network of fine tubes called lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes filter disease and germs (bacteria and viruses) from lymph, a liquid that travels through the lymphatic vessels. If you have an infection, lymph nodes close by often swell as they fight the infection.

There are lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin. Doctors can feel them when they look at these parts of the body. There are also lymph nodes in the chest and the tummy (abdomen).

The spleen is also part of the immune system. It stores blood cells and destroys old and damaged blood cells.

The lymphatic system