Burkitt’s leukemia is the name doctors give to Burkitt’s lymphoma, which occurs when tumor cells develop in the bone marrow and bloodstream. Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is a blood cancer that affects the B lymphocytes and how well a person can fight infection.
Although people all over the world can develop Burkitt’s lymphoma, it mainly affects children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Doctors have found a link between Burkitt lymphoma and the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and chronic malaria.
In the United States, Burkitt lymphoma usually occurs when someone has a compromised immune system.
This article takes a look at Burkitt’s leukemia and how it differs from Burkitt’s lymphoma. It will also look at the possible symptoms and treatment options.
“Burkitt’s leukemia” is for the most part interchangeable with “Burkitt’s lymphoma.”
According to a 2008 case study, doctors use the term Burkitt leukemia to indicate that the bone marrow contains 20% or more malignant Burkitt cells.
Lymphoma is a cancer that affects the white blood cells or lymphocytes. There are three types of lymphocytes:
B lymphocytes (B cells)T lymphocytes (T cells)natural killer cells
Burkitt lymphoma is an aggressive form of lymphoma that attacks the B cells and grows rapidly. In fact, the doubling time of Burkitt lymphoma is only 25 hours, according to the above case study.
Intensive chemotherapy is the most common treatment option for Burkitt lymphoma and is often successful in both children and adults.
There are three types of Burkitt lymphoma, which can arise from B cells at different stages of development. They are:
Endemic Burkitt lymphoma is most common in Africa, where it is associated with chronic malaria and EBV. It usually occurs in children aged 4-7 years. Endemic Burkitt lymphoma involves the jaw and other facial bones and has less involvement with abdominal organs.
Sporadic Burkitt lymphoma usually affects the abdomen, especially the ileocecal region, where the small intestine merges into the large intestine. Sporadic Burkitt lymphoma can also involve other sites, such as the:
layers of the membrane surrounding the abdominal organs, or the omentum ovarian breast, skidneystonsils, adenoids, and other lymphoid tissue
Sporadic Burkitt lymphoma occurs worldwide. In the US, it accounts for 1-2% of all adult lymphoma cases and 40% of children’s cases.
Immunodeficiency-associated Burkitt lymphoma occurs primarily in people with HIV, individuals with congenital immunodeficiency, and allograft recipients.
Symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma include:
swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin fever night sweats nausea vomiting abdominal pain unexplained weight loss
If lymphoma affects the bone marrow, it can lead to:
pale appearance bruising fatigue bone paina higher risk of infectiona higher risk of bleeding
EBV has shown a strong association with Burkitt lymphoma. EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and it is one of the most common human viruses.
Once a person has EBV, it remains dormant in their body and can be reactivated. EBV is contagious and usually spreads through bodily fluids, especially saliva.
According to the Leukemia Foundation, endemic Burkitt lymphoma is associated with EBV in almost all cases. In sporadic Burkitt lymphoma, EBV is present in about 30% of cases. EBV is also present in 40% of cases related to immunodeficiency.
Children are more likely to have Burkitt lymphoma than adults. It accounts for up to 30% of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas in children and 1% of lymphomas in adults, the Leukemia Foundation says.
Children are usually diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma around the age of 5-10, while adults are usually diagnosed around the age of 30-50. Burkitt lymphoma is also four times more common in men than in women.
Doctors usually need to run several tests before they can diagnose Burkitt lymphoma and Burkitt leukemia.
For example, they may perform a bone marrow or lymph node biopsy to inspect cells under a microscope.
Doctors can also check to see if lymphoma has developed in other parts of the body using:
physical exam to check for nodule blood tests CT scans and MRI scans lumbar puncture, if there is a suspicion that there are lymphoma cells in the spinal fluid
Without treatment, Burkitt lymphoma spreads quickly. However, combination chemotherapy has a high response rate and is often effective. Combination chemotherapy involves taking more than one drug at the same time to treat cancer.
Intrathecal chemotherapy can help treat Burkitt lymphoma in the central nervous system. Doctors administer this chemotherapy into the fluid between the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Some other options include monoclonal antibodies in combination with chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.
As with most cancers, treatment depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed.
People with stage 1 or 2 Burkitt lymphoma usually have chemotherapy as their primary treatment. Surgery before chemotherapy is a possible treatment option if the tumor affects only one area.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the duration of chemotherapy for people with stage 1 or 2 Burkitt lymphoma can range from 9 weeks to 6 months. A 9 week course of treatment is usually sufficient if the tumor is first successfully removed.
Stages 3 and 4 Burkitt lymphoma requires more intensive chemotherapy. The ACS adds that since these lymphomas grow rapidly, chemotherapy cycles are often short, with little rest between each course of treatment.
After intensive chemotherapy, children with a localized form of this condition have a 5-year survival rate of more than 90%. Children with widespread disease, including those with Burkitt’s leukemia, may have a complete response rate of over 90%.
Adults show an overall survival rate of 50-70% and response rates of 65-100%.
Intensive chemotherapy is often successful in treating Burkitt lymphoma. However, intensive chemotherapy can be acutely toxic to adults and cause other treatment-related complications, such as tumor lysis syndrome.
Burkitt leukemia is Burkitt lymphoma, but the prevalence of malignant Burkitt cells in the bone marrow reaches 20%.
Burkitt lymphoma is an aggressive condition and is more common in children than adults. There are three types of Burkitt lymphoma: endemic, sporadic, and associated with immunodeficiency.
EBV, a contagious virus that usually spreads through saliva, has a strong association with all types of Burkitt lymphoma.
Diagnoses of Burkitt’s lymphoma and Burkitt’s leukemia may include biopsies and imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI scans.
The most effective treatment option for Burkitt lymphoma is intensive chemotherapy. While this treatment method is usually successful, it can lead to some complications and toxicity, especially in adults.