Burkitt lymphoma

Burkitt Lymphoma

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: BL.

Lymphomas are a group of malignant tumors involving cells of the lymphoreticular or immune system such as B-lymphocytes, T-lymphocytes, and monocytes. Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) is the eponym given to a malignant tumor of the hematopoietic system, characterized by undifferentiated lymphocytes. It is a high-grade aggressive subgroup of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is composed of small, noncleaved, diffuse, undifferentiated, malignant cells of B lymphoid origin.

BL is form of malignant lymphoma reported in African children, frequently involving the jaw and abdominal lymph nodes. Geographic distribution of Burkitt lymphoma suggests that it is found in areas with endemic malaria. Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is listed in the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of lymphoid tumours as a B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with a high proliferative index.

Burkitt lymphoma

It is primarily a B-cell neoplasm and is believed to be caused by Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the family Herpesviridae, which can be isolated from tumor cells in culture; occasional cases of lymphoma with similar features have been reported in the United States.

Burkitt's lymphoma is also known to be associated with HIV infection. Most patients are adults with marked immunosuppression. There is tumor presentation both in lymph nodes and at extranodal sites particularly in CNS, bone marrow and gastrointestinal tract.



  • Sporadic.

  • Immunodeficiency-associated.

The molecular characteristic of BL is the activation of the c-MYC oncogene through reciprocal chromosomal translocation. Malaria has been recognized as an important cofactor in endemic Burkitt's lymphoma.

Burkitt's lymphoma is the most aggressive subtype of NHL. Because it grows rapidly, patients may soon experience metabolic disturbances and kidney problems. Burkitt's lymphoma has a high tendency to spread to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Once Burkitt's lymphoma is suspected, diagnosis and staging must be accomplished promptly, because any delay can result in undesirable effects on the prognosis.


Symptoms include:

Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, groin, below the jaw, and under the arm.

B symptoms may be present with both forms of Burkitt's lymphoma and include:


  • Weight loss.

  • Night sweats.


Exams and Tests

    Bone marrow biopsy.

  • Lymph node biopsy.

  • Chest x-ray.

  • CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

  • PET scans.

  • Examination of the spinal fluid.

A number of other ancillary diagnostic techniques are currently employed inthe diagnosis of Burkitt lymphoma and other hematolymphoid neoplasms,including immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and molecular-cytogenetic studies.


The most important factor in the treatment of lymphoma is the stage and grade of the disease. The number and regions of lymph nodes affected and whether only one or both sides of the diaphragm are involved are important considerations. Other factors affecting decisions about treating this disease include age (the older the individual, the more complications may occur with aggressive treatments), the symptoms, pregnancy, and the individual's overall health status.

Primary therapy for lymphoma includes radiation therapy for most early-stage lymphomas, or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. For later-stage lymphomas, chemotherapy is primarily used with radiation therapy added for control of large tumor disease. Biological therapy, or immunotherapy, is increasingly being used in addition to or as an alternative to these standard therapies.

Burkitt's lymphoma is a highly aggressive tumor, and often life threatening. But it is also one of the more curable forms of lymphoma. With current aggressive forms of chemotherapy that uses drugs in high doses, and with the availability of new measures to support individuals during intensive treatment, this lymphoma is curable in many patients. Nearly 80% of those with localized disease and more than half the children with more widespread disease are cured.

Prevention can theoretically be achieved by the eradication of malaria, or by vaccination against EBV.

Disclaimer: The above information is just informative purpose.The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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