Review: Burkitt’s Lymphoma

Cancer Information, Cancer Websites — By on September 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

burkitts-lymphomaThis site aims to provide resources on Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a very rare form of cancer with about only 300 new cases a year in the United States. Burkitt’s Lymphoma, rare in most of the world, is the most common childhood cancer in Central Africa, and is one of the most aggressive of all human cancers.

Burkitt’s lymphoma is one type of a group of malignant diseases know as the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas (NHL). These lymphomas are very similar to the leukemias. The type of malignant cell present is called a B-cell and Burkitt’s is often referred to as a B-cell lymphoma or leukemia.

As with other cancers, the exact cause is not known. Burkitt’s is the most common in children in Africa and there is some evidence linking its cause there to a virus known as the Epstein-Barr virus. Outside of Africa, chromosomal defects in some of the patient’s cells may be the cause. Children still seem to be the most affected, but there are cases of adults with Burkitt’s.

This malignancy grows very rapidly and a person who appeared in good health a month or 6 weeks ago may now be critically ill.
The diagnosis of Burkitt’s is usually made by a biopsy from a suspected disease site such as the bone marrow or a lymph node. The staging of the disease is done quickly to spare the patient any life threatening complications from the rapid tumor growth.

Common tests done include a complete blood count (CBC), a platelet count, a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy and a lumbar puncture. Further tests may include radiographic exams such as CT scan to look for occult masses but usually extensive x-ray procedures are not required.

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