Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that primarily affects children. This B-cell cancer of the lymphatic system has what are considered “noncleaved” cells, meaning they have no folds or indentations when viewed under a microscope.
Burkitt’s lymphoma often develops in the abdomen and spreads to other organs but can start anywhere in the body that lymph tissue is found, including lymph nodes and skin. Although there is a clear association of malaria and Burkitt’s lymphoma in Africa, this association is not seen in the United States. Most cases of Burkitt’s lymphoma have a chromosomal rearrangement between chromosome 8 and chromosome 14, which causes genes to change positions and function differently, promoting uncontrolled cell growth.
Patients with Burkitt’s lymphoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Lymphoma Program. Continue reading to learn more about Burkitt’s lymphoma or visit the Lymphoma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
Most children have stage III (tumors in multiple sites, but not in the bone marrow or central nervous system) or IV (tumors that have bone marrow or central nervous system involvement) disease when they are diagnosed. The disease can progress rapidly, within days or weeks, and a child could go from being otherwise healthy to having multi-system involvement in a short period of time.
The most common symptoms of Burkitt’s lymphoma are:
Because Burkitt’s lymphoma can grow very quickly, a timely and accurate diagnosis is critical. Tests to make a diagnosis include:
Other tests that may be done include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options, including clinical trials.
Treatment options for Burkitt’s Lymphoma includes:
These treatment options may be given alone or in some combination.
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