Areas where Burkitts usually develop
Areas where Burkitts usually develop

Burkitt's Lymphoma

Burkitt's lymphoma is a type of cancer that occurs as a rapidly growing, aggressive tumor, and is classified as a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is often rare in occurrence, and primarily affects the lymphatic system. Burkitt's lymphoma forms and spreads rapidly. Individuals who have Burkitt's lymphoma may have just appeared healthy and now exhibit symptoms of the illness. The disease most often occurs in children. In the United States, Burkitt's lymphoma often first manifests itself in the abdomen, spinal fluid, brain, ovaries, and testes.

Related Terminology

CT scan:A computed tomography (CT scan) uses X-rays to make detailed pictures of structures inside of the body
PET scan:A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for disease in the body.
Chemotherapy:Chemotherapy (also called chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells.
Epstein-Barr Virus:is a common human virus that causes infectious mononucleosis and plays a role in the emergence of two rare forms of cancer: Burkitt's lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.


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Burkitt lymphoma may first be noticed as a swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) in the neck, groin, or under the arm. These swollen lymph nodes are often painless, but can grow very rapidly.

Symptoms include:

Burkitts photograph on a cellular level
Burkitts photograph on a cellular level

Different Types of Burkitt's Lymphoma

There are three types of Burkitt's Lymphoma:

  • Endemic
  • This is the variant that most often affects children in equatorial Africa. The Endemic type will usually show itself in the facial bones

  • Sporadic This variant is the type that is found outside Africa, and is classified under non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This type is more common in the intestinal region.
  • Immunodeficiency-associated This variant generally occurs with an HIV infection, or the beginning stages of AIDS.
Symptoms, as described by the National Institute of Health (NIH), of Burkitt's lymphoma often involve swollen, but painless lymph nodes in the neck, under arm, or groin. Other symptoms include fever, night sweats, and unexplained weight loss.


Chemotherapy, when done aggressively, is often highly effective in combating the disease. Burkitt's lymphoma, because of it's rapidly growing nature, generally responds faster to chemotherapy. Surgery generally follows to remove the tumor. The survival rate is high, with around an 80% cure rate.
Some other treatments that may be used are:

  • Bone Marrow Transplants
  • Immunotherapy
  • Stem Cell Transplant

National Cancer Institute
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma