A spotlight on the lymphatic system


The lymphatic system constitutes the most important part of the human immune system, and untreated lymphological illness can lead to serious impairments in everyday life. Against this background, the European Society for Lymphology (ESL) was first created in 1978 under the name European Group of Lymphology. The society’s aim is to educate, raise awareness and bring together experts and professionals to ensure greater research and understanding of lymphatic illnesses.

Every year the society holds a congress whereby professionals can present and debate new research and knowledge around the topic. The meetings touch on conservative treatment for lymphatic disorders, surgery and micro-surgery in lymphatic insufficiency, complications in lymphoedema, and the quality of life issues that patients with lymphoedema can be faced with. The next ESL congress will go ahead in May of this year and will play host to the first ever Group R&D Clinical Applications Flourescence Imagings (GCAFI) meeting.

The introduction of the GCAFI meeting to the ESL congress is imperative to enabling greater understanding surrounding lymphology and will be dedicated to the centralised bringing together of different associations to ensure the meeting delivers the best possible research outcomes.

The GCAFI will be bringing forth their knowledge on the topic of near infra-red fluorescence imaging (NIRFI) of lymph nodes and cancers, including:

  • NIRFI of SLN after peri-tumoral injection of ICG
  • Opto-acoustic imaging and NIRFI
  • NIRFI of lymph node metastases after intra-venous injection of ICG
  • NIRFI of cancers after intra-venous injection of ICG
  • NIRFI of lymph node metastases after intra-venous injection of fluorescent molecules
  • NIRFI of cancers after intra-venous injection of fluorescent molecules
  • NIRFI for evaluation of the vascularisation
  • Endoscopic NIRFI.

Cancer and the lymphatic system

The lymphatic system has many crucial functions as it is the most important part of the human immune system. One of the functions of the lymphatic system includes the transport and removal of waste for various substances that reach the intercellular spaces via the blood vessels – it aids the removal of waste which cannot be released any other way.

The substances which are transported and removed are known as the lymph obligatory load and are usually made up of proteins, dietary fats, cells and cell debris, and also pathogens.

The ESL expresses the importance of early detection and early treatment of lymphatic system issues, including lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, and it is known to affect a type of white blood cell known as lymphocytes, which are integral to the immune system and help to fight disease in the body. Lymphoma is actually the most common blood cancer in Europe, as well as being the fifth most common cancer overall.