Burkitt Lymphoma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

A lot of Children has this condition called Burkitt Lymphoma. It is a rare type of cancer, but very common in our environment and it is also Curable, especially when diagnosed early on.

This cancer may affect the jaw, CNS, intestines, kidneys or other organs. The swellings are most commonly seen in the Jaws & Abdomen. This disease is rapidly fatal if left untreated.

What is Burkitt Lymphoma?

Burkitt lymphoma is a rare but highly aggressive type of Cancer. It is a form of cancer known medically as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There are other forms of this cancer.

Burkitt Lymphoma is the fastest growing cancer that has ever been known to human beings. What this means is that the cancer (lymphoma) can actually double in its size within 24hrs. Yes, within one day, it can become 2 times its size.

Burkitt Lymphoma
A Child with Burkitt lymphoma. Notice the distortion of the Tooth and the Jaw.

Why is it called Burkitt Lymphoma?

The cancer was named after the British surgeon Dr. Dennis Burkitt, who first identified the condition in the year 1956, among children in an African country.

Who are those at risk of Burkitt Lymphoma?

It is the most common type of Cancer in Children, especially in children in Africa. It is rare outside Africa. It is more common in children between the ages of 4 & 7 years, but can occur at any age.

Types of Burkitt Lymphoma

There are 3 different types of Burkitt Lymphoma. They are the:

  • Endemic (African) BL
  • Sporadic (Non-African) BL
  • Immunodeficiency Associated BL

The common type of BL in our Environment is known as the Endemic type of BL.
It is the most common type of BL and the most common cancer in Children.

Causes of Burkitt Lymphoma

The cause of the disease is not clearly understood.
In our environment, a virus known as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) as well the very common disease, MALARIA has been linked to the cause of this form of Burkitt lymphoma.

It has also been noticed in Children with some form of immunodeficiency, like HIV.

Symptoms of Burkitt Lymphoma

A child with this type of cancer would commonly have:
– Swelling on the jaw or other bones of the face.
– The swelling may also be seen on the abdomen (stomach).

It can also spread to the CNS, causing nerve damage, muscle weakness & paralysis.

Treatment of Burkitt Lymphoma

What to do if You have or Know a child with any of this symptoms?
You should take the child to a hospital & see a doctor immediately. The doctor would perform some tests to aid on diagnosis. If diagnosed early enough, it is curable & the child can live long enough.

Treatment involves the use of Medications which is what we call chemotherapy.
This may usually require the child to be admitted in the hospital so that he/she could be closely monitored.
It is the preferred treatment for this condition.

Please, if you see or know anyone with this condition, advise that the person be taken to a hospital as soon as possible.

The tumor spreads very fast & grows very large on a short time.

Please, share this with the buttons below for more awareness, and feel free to ask any questions using the comment buttons below.


  • Obidiegwu Jonathan attended the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, in Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State Nigeria

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