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Patients Against Lymphoma


About Lymphoma > Tumor Basics

Last update: 07/28/2011

A tumor is a mass or lump. This may be a NEOPLASM, HYPERPLASIA, distention, swelling, or anything that causes a local increase in volume. 

Not all tumors are cancers, and not all cancers are tumors. 
See Terms Related to Diagnostics for details.

But when you have lymphoma, the word tumor often refers to a cluster of malignant lymphocytes that form a mass.  When the mass exists in a lymph node, it causes the lymph node to enlarge.  It takes about billion malignant cells to form a 1 cm lymphoid tumor.  

See Lymphoma simplified for details about malignant cells. 
See Lymphatic system for details about lymphatic organs. 

Lymph node with malignant cells forming a tumor

The enlargement of a lymph node by a tumor is also referred to as lymphadenopathy. But not all lymphadenopathy indicates lymphoma.  Swollen lymph nodes may be caused by inflammatory reactions of the immune system, so-called reactive conditions.  

"Tumor burden = tumor load = the total amount of tumor material distributed throughout the body, including bone marrow.

This can be differentiated from bulky tumor. Bulky tumor is when individual masses are about 10 cm in diameter or larger.

When a person undergoes treatment, the tumors die off quickly at first, (tumor lysis) and this dead cellular material has to be filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidney and liver. In a person with high tumor burden, there is a  large amount of dead cells to be dealt with. Often, the person gets sick from this rapid increase in cellular detritus and the strain it puts on the body's systems.

Treatment protocols are sometimes different for high tumor burden and/or bulky  tumors to reduce the effects of tumor lysis."

Disclaimer:  The information on Lymphomation.org is not intended to be a substitute for 
professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
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