Burkitt's Lymphoma

What is Burkitt's Lymphoma?

Burkitt's Lymphoma is a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). It is a type of B-cell lymphoma, which occurs when abnormal B-cells rapidly multiply in the body and form tumors. Burkitt's Lymphoma is named after Denis Burkitt, the Irish surgeon who, in 1958, first identified this type of cancer.

Burkitt's Lymphoma is most commonly seen in young adults, adolescents and children, although it can affect people of any age. It usually starts in the abdomen, although the other common sites include skull, jaw, pelvis, bones, and other areas of the body where lymph nodes are located. Treatment typically involves a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of Burkitt's Lymphoma can depend on the location of the tumor in the body. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors

It is not yet known what causes Burkitt's Lymphoma, though there are certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing it. These include:

  • HIV-positive status
  • A weakened immune system
  • Exposure to certain viral infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus
  • Living in or visiting places where the endemic form of Burkitt's Lymphoma is more common


A doctor usually diagnoses Burkitt's Lymphoma based on physical examination, blood tests, and tissue biopsies. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans, may also be used to determine the size and location of the tumor.


The treatment for Burkitt's Lymphoma typically involves chemotherapy and/or radiation. In some cases, a stem cell transplant may be needed. Treatment may also involve watchful waiting for some patients who are asymptomatic and have small, localized tumors. The goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the tumor and prevent it from spreading.


The outlook for Burkitt's Lymphoma is generally good. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, the majority of patients can experience remission and even cure. The 5-year survival rate for patients with localized disease is over 90%, while the 5-year survival rate for advanced Burkitt's Lymphoma is 75%.