Bingers, let’s get a little serious for a moment. I know we’ve been explore the metro for food, travel, and pop culture experiences but let’s take a closer look at our health. Are you familiar with what our parents refer to as kulani? That’s also known as lumps. Now, feel your neck under the chin, if you felt something there, that must be a lump. Swollen lymph nodes tell us if something’s amiss in our bodies.
What is the Lymphatic System
To get a clearer picture of the lymphatic system, let’s understand how this section of the immune system works. It is a complex network partly made up of vessels and nodes that collects fluid, toxins, waste products, and pathogens from the body’s tissues; circulates oxygen and nutrients to our tissue cells; and then drains the filtered lymph or fluid back into the bloodstream. The fluid is transported throughout the body via hundreds of lymph nodes, those tiny structures containing white blood cells that trap and destroy viruses and bacteria present in the lymph fluid.
When the lymph nodes swell, this can be a warning signal we should not ignore as it may be a manifestation of an injury, infection, or disease. According to the American Cancer Society, commonly one group of nodes swells at a time, usually in the neck, groin, and underarms. And when more than one area is swollen, it could be due to strep throat infection, chicken pox, medicines, immune system diseases, or cancer. Though more often than not the reason for the swelling is not related to cancer, it’s best to get it checked by a doctor because Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, can show in the form of enlarged lymph nodes.
What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
Hodgkin’s disease, named after the doctor who first recognized it in the 1800’s, is a cancer originating in the lymph nodes that affect lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). The cause is unknown so far: diagnosed patients just reported feeling a lump in the neck, or what we Filipinos know as kulani. Until recently, chemotherapy was the conventional treatment method against this cancer, which involves the use of drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is considered a systemic therapy which means it may affect your entire body. Chemo medications attack growing cancer cells, but they can also affect healthy cells.
Thankfully, Hodgkin’s lymphoma responds well to a very promising form of treatment that won for its discoverers this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine: Immunotherapy. What immunotherapy does is instead of relying on external drugs to combat the disorder, it works on the cellular level through boosting the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, causing significantly less side effects.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Treatment in the Philippines
Here in the Philippines, immunotherapy is already being used as treatment option for Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has relapsed and other cancers.
An advocacy named Cancer Game Plan PH, stemming from the Hope From Within lung cancer early detection and access to treatment movement, is spreading optimism-coupled-with-action geared towards fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers because having awareness is crucial in the prevention of cancer through early screening and having knowledge of treatment options can spell the difference between a death sentence and survival.
Detecting persistent lump or kulani may indicate a serious disease such as cancer so it’s important to have one’s enlarged lymph nodes checked because early detection re- ally does give the best chance of beating cancer as well as other less threatening illnesses.
Stay checked, Bingers! We gotta be in top condition if we are to wander around the metro, right?