Burkitt lymphoma - BeatCancer

We do appreciate your time and input

Take the survey
No results found under “

Try adjusting your type

Clear search
Resources: 0
Events: 0
    Latest resources
    View 142 resources

    8 min read

    Understanding Burkitt Lymphoma: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis

    Burkitt lymphoma

    Burkitt lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a fast-growing and aggressive cancer of the lymphatic system. It predominantly affects children and is named after Denis Burkitt, who first identified this disease in African children in 1958. Common symptoms include fever, night sweats, and significant weight loss.

    Hailed as a rare but aggressive subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma warrants an in-depth exploration and understanding. This article intends to shed light on its definition, causes, symptoms, diagnostic methods, treatment options, and prognosis, with the primary goal of raising awareness and sparking a broader conversation about this specific type of cancer.

    Brief Overview of Burkitt Lymphoma

    Named after surgeon Denis Burkitt, who first identified the disease in African children in 1958, Burkitt lymphoma is characterized as high-grade, rapidly proliferating, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While it is predominantly found in children, it can affect adults too. This condition has three known types – Endemic, Sporadic, and Immunodeficiency-related, each associated with a distinct geographic distribution and risk factors.

    Importance of Understanding What Burkitt Lymphoma Is

    Grasping the concept of Burkitt lymphoma contributes to early detection, timely treatment, and improved patient outcomes. It also sheds light on prevention methods, current research, and potential future developments in its therapy.

    Defining Burkitt Lymphoma

    Burkitt Lymphoma According to Medical Experts

    Medically, Burkitt lymphoma is defined as a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that specifically affects B-lymphocytes, cells that form an integral part of our immune system. This cancer is renowned for its rapid growth rate which necessitates immediate diagnosis and treatment.

    Why is It Named Burkitt Lymphoma? The History Behind the Name

    The naming “Burkitt Lymphoma” is a tribute to Denis Burkitt, a British surgeon working in Africa. He first discovered this lymphoma in 1958 when he observed its high prevalence in African children and associated it with a particular fly-biting pattern.

    The Causes and Risk Factors of Burkitt Lymphoma

    Primary Causes of Burkitt Lymphoma

    The primary cause of Burkitt lymphoma is still unclear. Nonetheless, it has been linked to specific genetic mutations, particularly affecting the gene MYC – a gene that regulates cell growth.

    Identifiable Risk Factors That Can Heighten Susceptibility

    Several factors increase the risk of developing Burkitt lymphoma, such as being male, having the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), HIV/AIDS or a weak immune system. Certain geographic locations play a role too, with endemic Burkitt lymphoma primarily occurring in malaria-endemic regions of Africa.

    The Relation Between Epstein-Barr Virus and Burkitt Lymphoma

    Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), a herpes virus, has been specifically linked with Burkitt lymphoma, as evidence shows most patients have had an EBV infection prior to developing the disease. The exact mechanism of how EBV contributes to Burkitt lymphoma emergence remains under study.

    Symptoms of Burkitt Lymphoma and Its Manifestations

    Common Physical Symptoms

    Physical symptoms vary depending on the body area affected by the lymphoma but may include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, night sweats, fatigue, and rapidly enlarging lymph nodes.

    Cognitive and Psychological Signs

    Unlike physical symptoms, psychological signs are not unique to Burkitt lymphoma but can result from cancer fatigue, depression, anxiety, or the side effects of treatment. Behaviour changes, confusion, or memory problems may also occur if the lymphoma has spread to the central nervous system.

    Understanding the Progression of Symptoms

    Given its growth rate, symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma can advance rapidly within a few weeks or even days, requiring immediate medical attention.

    Diagnostic Procedures for Burkitt Lymphoma

    Role of Medical History and Physical Examination

    In diagnosing Burkitt lymphoma, physicians consider the patient’s medical history and conduct a comprehensive physical examination to detect any enlarged lymph nodes or abnormal organ enlargement.

    Laboratory Tests Used in Diagnosis

    Certain laboratory tests, including blood tests, lumbar puncture, and tissue biopsies, can help establish a diagnosis. Biopsies—particularly bone marrow and lymph node biopsies—are crucial in confirming Burkitt lymphoma.

    Imaging Procedures and Their Effectiveness

    Imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, can help identify the extent of disease spread.

    Treatment Options for Burkitt Lymphoma

    Overview of Standard Treatment Approaches

    Due to its aggressiveness, standard treatment approaches involve intensive chemotherapy, often combined with rituximab, a monoclonal antibody targeting B-cells, and central nervous system prophylaxis to prevent cancer from spreading to the brain and spinal cord.

    Breakdown on Chemotherapy for Burkitt Lymphoma

    Chemotherapy protocols for Burkitt lymphoma are combinatorial and involve multiple drugs administered in high doses over a short time. Due to the high toxicity of these drugs, supportive care, including anti-nausea medications and blood transfusions, is necessary.

    The Role of Immunotherapy and Bone Marrow Transplant

    Immunotherapy, particularly the use of rituximab, has shown promise in improving patient outcomes. For patients who do not respond to initial treatment or relapse, bone marrow (stem cell) transplant may be considered.

    Prognosis and Living with Burkitt Lymphoma

    Expected Prognosis for Burkitt Lymphoma Patients

    The prognosis of Burkitt lymphoma varies based on factors such as patient age, the spread of the disease, and the individual’s general health. However, with early diagnosis and prompt treatment, survival rates have increased significantly in recent years.

    Impact on Quality of Life and Adjustments to Make

    Living with Burkitt lymphoma can significantly impact quality of life due to both the disease and its intensive treatments, requiring substantial adjustments. Following a healthful diet, maintaining physical activity, seeking psychological support, and regular medical follow-ups can aid in managing these impacts and improving life quality.


    Recap of Key Points on Burkitt Lymphoma

    Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, boasts rapid proliferation and complex biochemical mechanics. Having dense clinical understanding and early detection can dramatically improve the patient’s prognosis.

    The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Treatment

    Given its fast growth rate, it’s critical to diagnose and treat Burkitt lymphoma early to enhance survival rates and minimise treatment side effects.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What Is the Incidence Rate of Burkitt Lymphoma in Adults and Children?

    The incidence rate of Burkitt lymphoma varies globally. In the United States, it accounts for 1-2% of all adult lymphomas, and about 40% of pediatric lymphomas.

    • Can Burkitt Lymphoma Be Prevented?

    Given that its exact cause is unknown, prevention of Burkitt lymphoma is challenging. However, early detection through regular medical check-ups can improve prognosis.

    • What Is the Survival Rate for Burkitt Lymphoma Patients?

    The survival rate for Burkitt lymphoma differs based on age, disease stage, and response to treatment. However, in children, cure rates can exceed 90% with intensive chemotherapy.

    • Are There Specific Populations or Geographic Areas More Prone to Burkitt Lymphoma?

    The endemic variant of Burkitt lymphoma is more common in certain areas of Africa. Meanwhile, the sporadic form can occur anywhere, albeit at lower rates. Populations with weakened immune systems or living with HIV/AIDS are at higher risk.

    • How Is Burkitt Lymphoma Different from Other Types of Lymphoma?

    Burkitt lymphoma is distinguished by the speed of its growth and its association with genetic mutations, specifically in the MYC gene. Additionally, it primarily targets B-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, and can manifest in various parts of the body.

    You might also like

    Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

    Cheryl Strayed


    (109,068 ratings)

    This book is a poignant reminder that in our shared humanity, we encounter moments of vulnerability, confusion, and pain. Cheryl Strayed's words serve as a beacon of hope, guiding readers towards self-discovery, healing, and a deeper understanding of the human experience.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Self-help
    • Advice

    The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

    Eckhart Tolle


    (333,495 ratings)

    n the realm of literature that offers solace and guidance in the face of profound despair, there exists an international best-seller, a timeless masterpiece whose relevance remains as potent today as it was upon its initial publication.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Spirituality
    • Mindfulness

    Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson

    Mitch Albom


    (978,435 ratings)

    Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Memoir
    • Inspirational

    The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

    Dalai Lama


    (113,661 ratings)

    Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Happiness
    • Spirituality

    A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

    Eckhart Tolle


    (194,092 ratings)

    In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Spirituality
    • Self-help

    The Breast Cancer Survival Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Woman with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer

    John Link


    (158 ratings)

    One of the most comprehensive and bestselling books on breast cancer treatment and survival, completely revised and updated

    • Cancer
    • Health
    • Medical Guide
    • Women's Health

    Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

    Brené Brown


    (201,590 ratings)

    From thought leader Brené Brown, a transformative new vision for the way we lead, love, work, parent, and educate that teaches us the power of vulnerability.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Psychology
    • Self-help

    You Can Heal Your Life

    Louise Hay


    (77,325 ratings)

    You Can Heal Your Life has transformed the lives of millions of people. This is a book that people credit with profoundly altering their awareness of the impact that the mind has on health and wellbeing.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Self-help
    • Health

    The Alchemist

    Paulo Coelho


    (2,883,354 ratings)

    At its heart, Paulo Coelho's masterpiece unfolds the mystical journey of Santiago, an unassuming Andalusian shepherd boy whose heart brims with a longing for adventure and the pursuit of a treasure that exists far beyond the confines of the material world.

    • Life and Personal Development
    • Fiction
    • Inspirational
    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

    The Last Lecture

    Randy Pausch


    (337,589 ratings)

    When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didnt have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, wasnt about dying.

    • Biography
    • Inspirational
    • Cancer

    Get to know
    us better!!

    If you are reading this, you are in the right place - we do not care who you are and what you do, press the button and follow discussions live!!