About Burkitt’s Lymphoma in Children
An aggressive (fast-growing) type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that occurs most often in children and young adults. The disease may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowel, kidneys, ovaries, or other organs. There are three main types of Burkitt lymphoma (sporadic, endemic, and immunodeficiency related). Sporadic Burkitt lymphoma occurs throughout the world, and endemic Burkitt lymphoma occurs in Africa. Immunodeficiency-related Burkitt lymphoma is most often seen in AIDS patients.
Considered a non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Claim to fame: Fastest doubling time of any cancer Texas Children’s cares for – it is the quickest growing
A child may have a small mass in the neck or abdomen one day and just a few days later, it is huge – potentially life-threatening due to the “mass effect” of rapid tumor growth.
All that rapid growth quite often results in kidney failure due to the inability of the kidneys to handle the breakdown of products of the growing tumor cells
Treatment for Burkitt’s Lymphoma in Children
For that reason, physicians at Texas Children’s Cancer Center start treatment as early as possible.
If the diagnosis is suspected, doctors may begin testing that very day, especially if the child is quite ill.
Typical presentation includes an abdomen filled with tumor, and swollen liver and spleen.
The prognosis for Burkitt’s Lymphoma used to be quite poor until doctors shortened and highly intensified the treatment. Now cure rates are excellent (over 85%).
Kids get 6-9 months of “knock your socks off” therapy that is usually associated with LOTS of side-effects that are manageable.
Kids with this cancer are generally in the hospital for long periods of time and go through several rough patches before they finish treatment.