Burkitt Lymphoma

Burkitt Lymphoma

Burkitt Lymphoma is a rapidly growing type non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a very uncommon type of cancer, and Burkitt lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma affecting mostly children. It is very aggressive and typically begins in the body parts rather than lymph nodes like other types of lymphoma cancers. Even though it grows rapidly it can be treated with a high chance of success rate if it is caught early enough.

Types of Burkitt Lymphoma

There are two main types of Burkitt Lymphoma; sporadic and endemic. Each type is a very broad type of lymphoma. Endemic Burkitt’s lymphoma happens more often in Africa with this being a common disease in the area. Sporadic is less common and typically happens in other areas of the world. They are technically the same disease but occur in different ways.

Causes and Risk Factors

The first cases of Burkitt’s lymphoma were discovered among children in some parts of Africa though it is sometimes seen in the United States as well. The main cause of Burkitt’s lymphoma occurring gin Africa is from the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which is the main cause of infection mononucleosis in Africa. In the United States, the cases of Burkitt’s lymphoma are not connected to EBV being the cause. While there is no known cause of the disease, people with HIV or AIDS have an increased risk of developing the disease. It is also more common among male children than female.

Symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma

Often times cancer and lymphomas specifically don’t show many signs and symptoms, but there are some symptoms associated with Burkitt lymphoma. The first sign is usually someone lymph nodes swelling which may be in the neck, under the arm or the groin area. They are usually painless but swell and grow quickly. For cases in the United States, the cancer usually starts in the abdomen but can also start in the brain, spinal fluid, ovaries and testes. Additional symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma include fever, unexplained weight loss and night sweats.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Burkitt Lymphoma

There are a variety of tests done to find out if someone has Burkitt lymphoma which usually start with a physical examination. Tests include a chest x-ray, bone marrow biopsy, CT scan of the chest, pelvis or abdomen, complete blood count, examining the spinal fluid, PET scan, or a lymph node biopsy. Treatment options typically include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and the use of medications such as prednisone, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, ifosfamide, cytarabine, vincristine, doxorubicin and etoposide. More than half of the patients diagnosed and treated for Burkitt lymphona will survive and recover from the disease.

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