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Burkitt lymphoma

B-cell lymphoma; High-grade B-cell lymphoma; Small noncleaved cell lymphoma

 

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a very fast growing form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Causes

 

BL was first discovered in children in certain parts of Africa. It also occurs in the United States.

The African type of BL is closely associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the main cause of infectious mononucleosis. The North American form of BL is not linked to EBV.

People with HIV/AIDS have an increased risk for this condition. BL is most often seen in males.

 

Symptoms

 

BL may first be noticed as a swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) in the head and neck. These swollen lymph nodes are often painless, but can grow very rapidly.

In the types commonly seen in the United States, the cancer often starts in the belly area (abdomen). The disease can also start in the ovaries, testes, brain, and spinal fluid.

Other general symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss

 

Exams and Tests

 

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Tests include:

  • Bone marrow biopsy
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Examination of the spinal fluid
  • Lymph node biopsy
  • PET scan

 

Treatment

 

Chemotherapy is used to treat this type of cancer. If the cancer does not respond to chemotherapy alone, a bone marrow transplant may be done.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

More than one half of people with BL can be cured with intensive chemotherapy. The cure rate may be lower if the cancer spreads to the bone marrow or spinal fluid. The outlook is poor if the cancer comes back after a remission or does not go into remission as a result of the first cycle of chemotherapy.

 

Possible Complications

 

Possible complications of BL include:

  • Complications of treatment
  • Spread of the cancer

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if you have symptoms of BL.

 

 

References

National Cancer Institute. PDQ adult non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. Updated June 1, 2016. www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/hp/adult-nhl-treatment-pdq#section/all. Accessed July 11, 2016.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology (NCCN guidelines): non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Updated May 3, 2016. Version 3.2016. www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/nhl.pdf. Accessed July 11, 2016.

Roschewski MJ, Wilson WH. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 106.

 
  • Lymphatic system

    Lymphatic system - illustration

    The lymphatic system filters fluid from around cells. It is an important part of the immune system. When people refer to swollen glands in the neck, they are usually referring to swollen lymph nodes. Common areas where lymph nodes can be easily felt, especially if they are enlarged, are: the groin, armpits (axilla), above the clavicle (supraclavicular), in the neck (cervical), and the back of the head just above hairline (occipital).

    Lymphatic system

    illustration

  • Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan

    Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan - illustration

    This abdominal CT scan shows tumor masses (malignant lymphomas) in the area behind the peritoneal cavity (retroperitoneal space).

    Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan

    illustration

    • Lymphatic system

      Lymphatic system - illustration

      The lymphatic system filters fluid from around cells. It is an important part of the immune system. When people refer to swollen glands in the neck, they are usually referring to swollen lymph nodes. Common areas where lymph nodes can be easily felt, especially if they are enlarged, are: the groin, armpits (axilla), above the clavicle (supraclavicular), in the neck (cervical), and the back of the head just above hairline (occipital).

      Lymphatic system

      illustration

    • Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan

      Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan - illustration

      This abdominal CT scan shows tumor masses (malignant lymphomas) in the area behind the peritoneal cavity (retroperitoneal space).

      Lymphoma, malignant - CT scan

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Tests for Burkitt lymphoma

       

         

        Review Date: 5/20/2016

        Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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