Burkitt Lymphoma in Children
What is Burkitt lymphoma in children?
Burkitt lymphoma is a rare, fast-growing form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It’s a
type of cancer
that starts in white blood cells
the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system. It helps
to fight diseases and infections. The lymphatic system also helps balancefluids in
different parts of the body. The lymphatic system includes:
- Lymph. This is a
blood cells called
vessels. These are tiny tubes that carry lymph fluid
over the body.
- Lymphocytes. These are a type of white blood
infections and disease. Burkitt lymphoma
one type of
nodes. These are small bean-shaped organs. They'rescattered allover
connected by lymph
filter the lymph fluid as it moves around the body.
- Other organs and body tissues. The lymphatic system includes the bone marrow where blood is made. It also includes the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and digestive tract.
There are 3 main types of Burkitt lymphoma:
(African). Endemic means it is common in one area. This type is a common
childhood cancer in central Africa and New Guinea. Itcauses
large tumors of the face and
rare in the U.S.
is the type
in the U.S. and Western Europe. It
causes large tumors in the belly (abdomen).
- Immunodeficiency-associated. This type mostly affects
with HIV infection. The lymph nodes, bone marrow, and brain and spinal cord (central
nervous system) are often affected.
Which children are at risk for Burkitt lymphoma?
In children, Burkitt lymphoma is
boys between ages
5 and 10.
What causes Burkitt lymphoma in a child?
other types of NHL, the exact cause of Burkitt lymphoma isn'tknown.
infections may increase a child’s risk of having Burkitt lymphoma. The viruses that are
linked to Burkitt lymphoma include:
the virus that causes mono (mononucleosis)
- HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
What are the symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma in a child?
The symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma start suddenly, and the tumors tend to grow very quickly. A child can become very sick in a few days to a few weeks. Symptoms of a belly (abdominal) tumor can include:
with bowel movements (constipation)
- Poor appetite
eating a small amount of food
Other symptoms may include:
swelling of the lymph nodes in
neck, chest, abdomen, underarm, or groin
or trouble breathing
The symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma can look like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is Burkitt lymphoma diagnosed in a child?
child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and symptoms. He
or she will examine your
tests such as:
- Blood and
urine tests. Blood and urine
are tested in a lab.
small tissue sampleis
tumor, lymph nodes, or other tissue. It’s checked with a microscope for cancer
shows the heart, lungs, and other parts of the chest.
- CT scan.
This may be done
to look at
abdomen, chest, and pelvis. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays and a computer to make
of the inside of the
child may drink a contrast
may be injected into
The dye helps show more details.
scan. An MRI uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer
to make detailed pictures of the
inside of the
body. This test is used to check the brain and spinal cord. Or it
may be used if the results of an X-ray or CT
This is also called sonography. Sound waves and a computer are used to make
pictures of blood vessels, tissues, and organs.
- Bone marrow
aspiration or biopsy. Bone marrow is found in the center of some bones. It’s
where blood cells are made. A small amount of bone marrow fluid may be
out. This is called aspiration. Or solid bone marrow tissue may be
taken. This is called a core biopsy. Bone marrow
taken from the
of the hip bone. This test may be done to see if cancer cells have
reached the bone marrow.
(spinal tap). A
needle is placed
and into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord.
This is done to
see if there
are cancer cells
the brain and spinal
A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is
sent for testing. CSF is the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
of diagnosing cancer is called staging. Staging is the process of seeing if the cancer
has spread, and where it has spread. Staging also helps to
best treatment. There are different ways of staging
most range from stage 1 to stage
4 is cancer that has spread to parts of the body that are not part of the
Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the stage of your child's
cancer and what
How is Burkitt lymphoma treated in a child?
Treatment will depend on the type and stage. Burkitt lymphoma is
- Chemotherapy medicines
are medicines that kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
is the main treatment for
more than one type of
is used. If
cancer cells are found in the CSF, chemo will need to be given in that area too.
- Surgery.If there's
surgery may be done to remove it. This isdone
- Clinical trials. Ask your child's healthcare provider if there are any treatments being tested that may work well for your child. Many new treatments are only available in clinical trials.
lymphoma grows quickly and the tumors are often very big. When chemo starts, it kills a
lot of cancer cells in a short time. These dead cells can build up in your child's body
and cause a problem called
TLS can cause kidney damage and problems with the heart and nervous system. Your child
will be given medicines and a lot of IV fluids to help keep this from
Your child will need follow-up care during and after treatment to:
- Check on your child's response to the treatment
- Manage the side effects of treatment
- See if cancer
With treatment, most children with Burkitt lymphoma go on to live long lives. With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep in mind:
- Getting medical treatment right away is important for the best prognosis.
- Ongoing follow-up care during and after treatment is needed.
- New treatments are being tested to improve outcome and to lessen side effects.
the doctor about any concerns you may have or problems you may notice. Your child's
treatment team wants to know as much as they can about how your child is
possible complications of Burkitt lymphoma in a child?
Possible complications depend on the type and stage of the
well as the treatment used. Your child may have short- and long-term problems from the
tumor or from treatment. They
- Increased risk
risk for bleeding
- Sores in
doctor about what you should watch for and what can be done to help prevent
How can I help my child live with Burkitt lymphoma?
You can help your child manage his or her treatment in many ways. For example:
child may have trouble eating. A dietitian may be able to help.
child may be very tired. He or she will need to balance rest and activity. Encourage
your child to get some exercise. This is good for overall health. And it may help to
emotional support for your child. Find a counselor or child support group
sure your child
to all follow-up appointments.
When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
- Symptoms that get worse
- New symptoms
- Side effects from treatment
Key points about Burkitt lymphoma
- Burkitt lymphoma is a very fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- It often causes large belly (abdominal) tumors.
- A child may have swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, fever, and other symptoms.
- It's treated
chemotherapy and surgery.
- With treatment, most children with Burkitt lymphoma go on to live long lives.
- Ongoing care is important.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
- Know why
a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also knowwhat
the side effects are.
- Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
how you can contact your child’s provider after office
This is important ifyour child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Kim Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer:
Date Last Reviewed:
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