The objectives that will be covered for my STEAM project are to explain the role of the lymphatic system in the immune response, identify the key structure of the lymphatic system, and relate how the lymphatic system can indicate disease. We learned about the Lymphatic and immune systems in unit 10. My project will be covering non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

The lymphatic system consists of the lymphatics, lymph nodes, and lymph. Lymph nodes filter and cleanse lymph as macrophages remove and destroy microorganisms and debris in the lymph. They also activate the immune system as lymphocytes (white blood cells) attack foreign substances and infections. Lymphocytes travel through lymph vessels into lymph nodes, destroying pathogens and microorganisms. The lymph enters the bloodstream through a vein in the heart. The lymphoid organs include the spleen, thymus, tonsils, lymph nodes, and other lymphoid tissues. 

Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in cells of the lymphatic system. This cancer can appear almost anywhere. There are many types of lymphoma. The two primary types include non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There are currently more than 70 types of lymphoma, most of which are classified as either non-Hodkin’s or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The difference between non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and Hodgkin’s is the presence of REED-Sternberg cells, which are only present in Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These cells are atypical and may contain more than one nucleus. NHL is very unpredictable and tends to spread to extranodal sites. NHL estimates over 280,000 cases yearly. The 2024 estimated death toll of NHL is more than 20,000, which would be 3% of all cancer deaths. Men are more commonly affected than women, and individuals with weak immune systems, sexually transmitted diseases, or organ transplantation have a much higher risk of developing NHL. 

NHL typically occurs from T-cells, natural killer cells, and, in most occurrences, B-cells. These cells are all white blood cells and can grow slowly or fast. Large B-cells are most typical in adults and grow very fast. These white blood cells multiply uncontrollably, causing tumors to form in lymph nodes or lymphoid tissues. 

Symptoms of NHL include fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, weight loss, and fever. Typically, the first symptom is swollen lymph nodes. However, because the lymphatic system covers the entire body, symptoms vary depending on which area is first affected. NHL patients increase the risk of multiple other cancers, including melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, and lung, brain, kidney, and bladder cancer. Treatments of NHL include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, plasmapheresis, antibiotic therapy, surgery, or stem cell transplant. However, if treated, NHL may come back. 

The art that I created represents the different stages of NHL and possible affected areas of each stage. Staging is based on the extent of spreading that has occurred. The first stage is stage one, where the cancer is found in either one or multiple lymph nodes in clusters. Rarely will cancer be found in the thymus or spleen in this stage. Stage two is where cancer is found above or below the diaphragm in either two or multiple clusters of lymph nodes. Stage three is where the cancer is now in clusters above and below the diaphragm. Cancer may also be in clusters in the spleen. The last stage is stage four, in which several locations are affected. Cancer has now spread to one or more organs outside the lymphatic system, like the lungs, liver, and bone marrow. Cancer will also be found in multiple groups of lymph nodes above and below the diaphragm and one organ outside the lymphatic system. 


  1. William’s STEAM project on Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) depicts the four stages of NHL to show the objective of his project, which focuses on the lymphatic system and progression of NHL. His project goes into detail of how NHL can spread throughout the body. This is shown in his art project as the red highlighted cancerous lymph nodes spread across each stage.

    The objective is first described by discussing the organs of the lymphatic system and how those organs contribute to the immune response. The lymphatic system organs include the lymphatics, lymph nodes, and lymph which all have different roles that work together for a functional immune system. These organs are able to filter out pathogens, attack pathogens, and help activate the immune response.

    There are over seventy types of lymphoma which mostly fall under one of the two main categories. The two main types are non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. What contrasts these two types of lymphoma are REED-Sternberg cells found in Hodgkin’s cells. When considering NHL, these abnormal cells can originate from lymphocyte cells. After that they can spread quickly to extranodal sites including other organs outside of the lymphatic system during stage four.

    There are several identifiable symptoms of NHL and treatment options for people living with NHL. Common symptoms include fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, fever, and weight loss. Treatment options can include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, etc., however, NHL can return even after treatment.

    Gianna Josten
  2. I just wanted to say great work William! I thought your project was incredible. I loved the art! I feel like I learned a lot about NHL and its impact on the lymphatic and immune systems.

    Gianna Josten

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