What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is a major part of your immune system comprising organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts and lymph vessels. The lymphatic system transports large molecules of cellular debris in the form of lymph fluid from veins and capillaries to the lymph nodes. Lymph fluid is a clear or white concoction of proteins, fats and white blood cells, including lymphocytes, which attack bacteria in the blood.

Once lymph fluid is transported to the nodes it is filtered; damaged cells, cancer cells, infectious organisms and foreign particles are attacked and destroyed. Lymph nodes are located in strategic areas throughout the body including the neck, armpit, groin, and inside the chest and stomach. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign that your body is fighting an infection, because your lymph nodes will make more infection-fighting lymphocytes which can increase the fluid in the nodes.

Lymphatic tissue is also found in the tonsils, adenoids, spleen, thymus, intestinal wall and bone marrow.

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