My 23-yr old cousin Graham was diagnosed last year with Burkitt’s lymphoma. We got the call today that his fight has escalated very quickly and he’s about to lose the battle. It’s now just a matter of hours. Please pray for a peaceful passing for him, and for strength and peace for the rest of us.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare kind of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) that originates in the B-lymphocytes, a particular type of cells in the immune system that produce antibodies. The disease was described for the first time in 1956 by Denis Parsons-Burkitt, a surgeon who was working in central Africa.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is an aggressive type of NHL that mainly occurs in children. There are primarily two distinct types of Burkitt’s lymphoma, and these are the sporadic type and the endemic type. Endemic Burkitt’s lymphoma is limited to equatorial Africa that has a very high incidence of this disease. The striking characteristics of endemic variety are large tumors that form in the jaw and abdominal regions. Sporadic variety of this disease occurs in other parts of world other than central Africa. This variety involves B-cells in the bone marrow and abdomen.
Often referred to as B-cell lymphoma or B-cell leukemia, this disease originates primarily due to B-cells getting infected with Epstein-Barr virus. Other factors that aid in the occurrence of the disease include inheritance patterns and chromosomal defects. Symptoms of this disease are dependant on the site of origin of this disease. Some common symptoms observed in this disease include painful swelling of the affected area, nausea, vomiting, fever and anemia. Since the malignancy grows rapidly, the health of child also deteriorates rapidly. Diagnosis of this disease is possible through bone marrow aspiration and biopsy of the affected region. Other diagnostic procedures include determining blood counts, microscopic examination of spinal fluid and CT scans.
Even though, Burkitt’s lymphoma is a highly invasive cancer, it is also one of the more curable forms of lymphoma. The most common therapeutic approach is chemotherapy. Some of the drugs that are used for treatment include doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, methotrexate, cytarabine, ifosfamide and etoposide. However, the success of the therapy depends on the stage at which the disease is diagnosed. Other therapeutic approaches include bone marrow transplantation (BMT), immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies and radiation therapy.