Burkett’s Leukemia and lymphoma - DR GHULAM YASEEN

Burkett’s Leukemia and lymphoma

Burkett’s Leukemia and lymphoma

It is fast growing and rare leukemia in which there is an excess of B-lymphocytes(white blood cells) in the blood and bone marrow. It usually starts into the lymph nodes as Burkitt lymphoma, after that it spreads into the blood and bone marrow. It can grow directly into the blood and bone marrow, without the involvement of lymph nodes. Burkitt’s leukemia and Burkitt’s lymphoma are linked to the infection due to Epstein-Barr virus.

Clinical presentation of burkitts leukemia is varied according to the site of origin and metastasized. Commonly it involves the gastrointestinal tract, head, and neck. Other primary sites can be abdomen ,bone, liver, spleen, kidney, breast and pancreas.

 Sign and symptoms

Sign and symptoms of Burkitt’s leukemia may include the following

In the case of abdominal BL, common sign and symptoms are

  • Palpable mass
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Constipation/Black stools
  • Unexplained fever

When to visit the doctor

If you feel any alarming symptoms that make you worry, visit your doctor immediately.


Causes of Burkitt’s leukemia are following

  • Endemic Burkitt’s leukemia is linked to malaria and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), that also causes glandular fever.
  • The sporadic form of Burkitt’s leukemia is less associated with the presence of Epstein- Barr virus (EBV) because in some cases people have this virus but they cannot develop Burkitt’s leukemia.
  • People with immune-deficient syndromes like HIV/AIDS have higher chances to develop Burkitt’s leukemia than people without these syndromes.



Types of BL

According to the WHO criteria, there are 3 types of Burkitt’s leukemia.

Endemic BL: the endemic form of Burkitt’s leukemia is most common in Africa. Almost 50% of childhood malignancies are of Burkitt’s leukemia. The mandibular, orbital bones and abdomen are the most common sites for the progression of endemic Burkitt’s leukemia. These types have more chances to spread into the central nervous system.

Sporadic BL: It occurs worldwide equally. Almost 30-40% of children suffer from this leukemia. In the US and many European countries, it is diagnosed in the 40% pediatric lymphomas and 1-2% in adult leukemia cases. The abdomen is the most common site for the development of this form of BL.

Immunodeficiency-associated BL: This type of BL is more common in patients with HIV/AIDS. It accounts for almost 30-40% of non-hodking lymphomas in the patients  of HIV and AIDS. It also occurs in the patients having congenital diseases that cause immune deficiency or in those who take immunosuppressive drugs for a long time.

Risk factors

Infections: Some viruses that directly affect the DNA of lymphocytes and can cause Burkitt’s leukemia such as a human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1), Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)  and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Autoimmune disease: Having Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus and celiac disease are linked with the development of Burkitt’s leukemia.

Body weight and diet: Being over-weight or obese have higher risks developing many health impairing issues including leukemias. Eating a healthy diet and staying in normal weight, can lower the risks of leukemias.

Radiation exposure: Exposure to radiations for a long time can cause BL. Risks are higher for the people who got radiation therapy and chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer in the past.

Family history: Having first-degree relatives who have cancer can increase your risks to suffer from Burkitt’s leukemia.

Race, geography: It usually affects the people of Africa, the US, and Europe. In USA, white people are on higher risks than Asian American



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