BURKITT’S LYMPHOMA

Burkitt’s lymphoma (or “Burkitt’s tumour” or “Malignant lymphoma, Burkitt’s type”) is a cancer of the lymphatic
system (in particular, B lymphocytes). It is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and recognised as the fastest growing human
tumour. Of all cancers involving the same class of blood cell, 2% of cases are Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Causes

  • Associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Risk factors

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Chronic malaria
  • Low socio-economic status

Clinical features

  • Often presents as a tooth ache in the maxilla
  • Teeth are mobile
  • Extractions do not relieve the swelling
  • Peak incidence at 4-7 years of age and more common among boys

Classification

Burkitt’s lymphoma is divided into 3 main clinical variants:

  • Endemic variant: occurs in malaria endemic areas. Chronic malaria is believed to reduce resistance to
    Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is usually linked with the disease. The disease characteristically involves the jaw or other facial bone, distal ileum, caecum, ovaries, kidney, or the breast.
  • Sporadic type: (also known as ”non-African”) is usually found outside of Africa
  • Immunodeficiency-associated Burkitt’s lymphoma: usually associated with HIV infection or in posttransplant
    patients taking immunosuppressive drugs. Burkitt’s lymphoma can be the initial manifestation of
    AIDS.

Differential diagnosis

  • Other cancer diseases

Investigations

  • Biopsy of the mass

MANAGEMENT

  • Refer to cancer treatment specialist centres for appropriate management
  • Treatment options include: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow transplants,
    surgery, radiotherapy