Prostate cancer and the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system helps protect us from disease. If prostate cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes, they usually go to the nodes close to the prostate.

The lymphatic system helps protect us from infection and disease. It also drains lymph fluid from the tissues of the body before returning it to the blood. The lymphatic system is made up of fine tubes called lymphatic vessels that connect to groups of lymph nodes throughout the body.

Lymph nodes (sometimes called lymph glands) are small and bean-shaped. They filter bacteria (germs) and disease from the lymph fluid. When you have an infection, lymph nodes often swell as they fight the infection.

The lymphatic system

If prostate cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes, they usually go to the nodes close to the prostate. You may have a scan to check if the cancer has spread to these nodes.

In early prostate cancer, the cells have not spread to the lymph nodes. Locally advanced prostate cancer may have spread to these nodes. In advanced prostate cancer, there are usually cancer cells in the lymph nodes close to the prostate and in lymph nodes further away.