Burkitt lymphoma or Burkitt lymphoma is a fast-growing and aggressive type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This condition is usually associated with disorders of the immune system. Cancer cells in Burkitt's lymphoma can spread to any part of the body, including the brain and spinal cord.
Burkitt lymphoma can occur in all age groups, but is more common in children. This disease is often associated with viral infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Given that Burkitt lymphoma can get worse very quickly, people with this condition need to get treatment right away. The sooner it is treated, the higher the chance that this condition can be cured.
Types of Burkitt Lymphoma
Based on the location of the spread of the disease and the affected body part, Burkitt lymphoma is divided into three types, namely:
Endemic Burkitt lymphoma
Endemic Burkitt lymphoma is Burkitt lymphoma that occurs in Africa. This strain is often associated with chronic malaria and EBV infection .
The body parts most frequently affected by endemic Burkitt lymphoma are the facial bones and jaw. However, in some cases, this type can also occur in the intestines, kidneys, ovaries, and breasts.
Sporadic Burkitt l ymphoma
Sporadic Burkitt lymphoma is Burkitt lymphoma that occurs outside of Africa. This condition is most commonly associated with EBV infection.
The part of the body most often attacked by this type of Burkitt lymphoma is the lower digestive tract (the end of the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine).
Immunodeficiency-related lymphoma is Burkitt lymphoma associated with a weakness of the immune system. This condition is often related to the use of drugs that suppress the immune system ( immunosuppressants ) or inherited disorders.
Causes of Burkitt Lymphoma
The exact cause of Burkitt lymphoma is not known . However, infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is often associated with this condition.
In addition, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk of developing Burkitt lymphoma , namely:
- Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS infection, HTLV (human T-cell lymphotrophic virus) infection, and chemotherapy and radiotherapy
- Autoimmune diseases , such as rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, or celiac disease
- Stomach disease due to infection with Helicobacter pylori
Although it is a dangerous disease, Burkitt lymphoma is not contagious and is not inherited or passed down from parents.
Symptoms of Burkitt Lymphoma
Symptoms of Burkitt lymphoma can vary, depending on the type. In endemic Burkitt lymphoma , the tumor or lymph node enlargement usually begins in the facial bones, jaw, and spreads to the central nervous system.
Meanwhile, in sporadic Burkitt lymphoma and immunodeficiency-related lymphoma , lymph node tumors usually start in the intestine, reproductive organs (such as the ovaries and testes), then spread to the liver, spleen, and spinal cord.
In addition to the above symptoms, there are several other symptoms that people with Burkitt lymphoma can experience , namely:
- Tired suddenly
- Prolonged fever
- Frequent sweating at night
- Appetite down
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you experience an enlargement or lump on your face, jaw, neck or stomach, especially if accompanied by the complaints mentioned above.
If you suffer from a disease that affects the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or an autoimmune disease, take regular checks with your doctor to monitor your condition.
If you have been diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma , undergo examination according to the schedule given by the doctor and follow the treatment until it is declared complete by the doctor. This is because Burkitt lymphoma is a disease that is at risk of recurrence.
Diagnosis of Burkitt Lymphoma
The doctor will ask the patient's complaints and medical history. After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination, especially in the head, neck, and abdomen, to check for swollen lymph nodes in these areas.
Furthermore, to diagnose Burkitt lymphoma , the doctor will perform the following supporting tests:
- Biopsy , to determine the type of cell that grows and develops by examining a sample of lymph nodes
- Blood tests , to determine the number of blood cells, as well as to assess liver and kidney function
- Scanning with X-rays , CT scans, MRI , ultrasound, and PET scans , to see the position, size, and spread of lymphoma
- Bone marrow aspiration , to see the spread of cancer cells in the bone marrow
- HIV test , to detect HIV infection by antibody test, PCR test, or antibody-antigen combination test
Treatment of Burkitt Lymphoma
After the patient is confirmed to have Burkitt lymphoma , the doctor will perform the following treatment methods:
Chemotherapy is the administration of drugs, either by injection or by mouth, to kill cancer cells.
Several types of drugs that can be given to treat Burkitt's lymphoma are cyclophosphamide , doxorubicin, metrotrexate , vincristine. These drugs can be given as single therapy or in combination.
Monoclonal antibody class drugs, such as rituximab , can also be given to encourage the immune system to work better in destroying cancer cells.
Radiotherapy is a therapy using X-rays to kill cancer cells. Generally, this therapy is performed on cancer that is still in its early stages or that has not spread to other organs.
Bone marrow transplant
Bone marrow (stem cell) transplant aims to replace damaged bone marrow tissue with healthy tissue.
In some cases of Burkitt lymphoma , doctors may perform surgery to remove the part of the intestine that is blocked or the tumor has ruptured.
Complications of Burkitt Lymphoma
If you don't get treatment right away, Burkitt lymphoma can cause complications in the form of:
- Intestinal obstruction
- Tumor lysis syndrome
- Liver disfunction
- Spread (metastasis) of cancer cells to other organs and body parts
Burkitt Lymphoma Prevention
Burkitt lymphoma cannot be prevented. However, there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing Burkitt lymphoma , namely:
- Have safe sex and do not use drugs, to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS
- Undergo regular doctor checks if you have an autoimmune disease or are taking immunosuppressant drugs in the long term