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Burkitt lymphoma is a 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, kidneys, ovaries, or other organs. Learn about Burkitt lymphoma and find information on how we support and care for children and teens with Burkitt lymphoma before, during, and after treatment.
The Hematologic Malignancy Center at Dana-Farber Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is one of the top pediatric leukemia and lymphoma treatment centers in the world. In addition to treating lymphomas and leukemias, our center treats the primary types of histiocytosis.
All members of our treatment team — including oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, stem cell transplant physicians and oncology nurses — have specific expertise in pediatric hematologic malignancies. Many of our specialists are recognized as national leaders in their field.
Our clinical research program enables us to offer innovative clinical trials for children of all ages and with many forms of hematologic malignancies. Our clinical team works closely with researchers to develop new treatments based on the latest scientific discoveries.
Our services include:
Additional support services for our patients include:
Learn more about our Hematologic Malignancy Center.
Burkitt's lymphoma (also called small noncleaved cell lymphoma) is a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system.
Children with Burkitt's lymphoma are treated through the Lymphoma Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. We utilize the expertise of both Boston Children's Hospital, consistently ranked one of the top children's hospital in the country, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a nationally recognized leader in cancer care and a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Members of our physician team all have specific expertise in pediatric lymphomas.
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and functions to fight disease and infections. The lymphatic system includes:
There are several types of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, classified by physicians based on the size and shape of the lymphoma cells under a microscope, and how the cells grow within the lymph nodes and beyond.
The specific cause of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is unclear. Some possibilities for factors that may increased your child’s risk of developing this cancer include:
There has been much investigation into the association of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with:
Both of these infectious viruses have been linked to the development of Burkitt's lymphoma. The majority of Burkitt's lymphoma cases result from a chromosome rearrangement between chromosome #8 and #14, which causes genes to change positions and function differently, promoting uncontrolled cell growth.Other chromosome rearrangements have been seen in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (all types) are also thought to promote excessive cell growth. Children and adults with other hereditary abnormalities have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including patients with:
Most children have stage III or IV disease at the time of diagnosis because of the sudden onset of symptoms. The disease can progress quickly from a few days to a few weeks, and your child could go from otherwise healthy to having multi-system involvement in a short time period.Some children with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have symptoms of an abdominal mass and complain of abdominal pain, fever, constipation and decreased appetite (due to the pressure and obstruction a large tumor in this area can cause). Some children with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have symptoms of a mass in their chest and complain of respiratory problems, dyspnea (pain with deep breaths), cough and/or wheezing.Because of the rapid onset of this malignancy, any respiratory symptoms can quickly worsen, causing a life-threatening emergency.While each child may experience symptoms differently, some of the most common include:
The symptoms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may include:
Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. There are various staging symptoms that are used for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Always consult your child's physician for information on staging. One method of staging non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the following:
Specific treatment for Burkitt’s lymphoma will be determined by your child's physician based on:
Treatment components may include the following (alone or in combination):
ChemotherapyChemotherapy is a drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Because Burkitt's lymphoma grows so quickly, chemotherapy treatment may be intense and last 6-8 months. Treatment may include drugs given directly to central nervous system (CNS) through the blood stream or a small puncture in the spine to prevent cancerous cells from multiplying in the spinal cord or brain.
— How is chemotherapy given? Different chemotherapies may be given:
— How is chemotherapy used? This depends on many factors. Some things to keep in mind:
— Does chemotherapy come with bad side effects? While chemotherapy can be quite effective, the drugs do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help your child, family and your child’s health care team prepare for and sometimes prevent these symptoms from occurring.
SurgerySurgery usually plays a limited role in the treatment of lymphoma. In some instances, a child may need to have a tumor removed. This may be the case if, for example, the tumor originates in the mediastinum region, where it may compress your child’s airway and/or heart and major vessels. Surgery in this area may entail considerable risk, and must be carefully orchestrated between the surgeon, oncologist and anesthesiologist.Radiation therapyRadiation therapy uses high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This type of therapy is most effective when there is a bulky, localized tumor that will not respond completely to chemotherapy.Stem cell transplantStem cells are a specific type of cell from which all blood cells develop. They can develop into red blood cells to carry oxygen, white blood cells to fight disease and infection, and platelets to aid in blood clotting. Stem cells are found primarily in the bone marrow, but some also circulate in the blood stream.
Supportive careMedications including antibiotics may be given if your child experiences pain, fever, infection and nausea and/or vomiting.Continuous follow-up careYour child’s health will be closely monitored to determine response to treatment, detect recurrent disease and manage late effects of treatment.
Your child’s prognosis greatly depends on:
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis, and continuous follow-up care is essential. New methods are continually being discovered to improve treatment and decrease side effects of the treatment for the disease.
A variety of chemotherapeutic regimens have been evaluated in the treatment of newly diagnosed high-grade gliomas.
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is part of the Children's Oncology Group, a national group of pediatric oncologists whose work includes investigational treatments for newly diagnosed patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and those who experience relapse. Studies also seek to improve the supportive care of patients undergoing treatment.One area of treatment under investigation is biological therapy or immunotherapy, the use of drugs that seem to slow the growth of cancer cells while stimulating and strengthening the body's own immune system. Improvements are also occurring in the area of stem cell transplant, where researchers are finding better ways to improve pre-transplant treatment, broaden the range of compatible donors, and more effectively remove cancerous cells from patient's own bone marrow.
Many children with cancer receive treatment in the outpatient setting, which allows them to stay in school and continue to develop intellectually and socially. However, returning to school can be an emotional experience; our Back to School Program is designed to ease your child's transition back to the classroom.
Concierge Services is your one-stop place to learn about Dana-Farber programs, services and resources, as well as information on getting around Boston, finding lodging or restaurants, and activities in the area.
The Expressive Arts Therapy program, sponsored by the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, provides adult patients, family members, and caregivers with a variety of options to support well-being during cancer treatment. From live music meditation to painting technique workshops, the program offers a range of creative outlets to suit every interest.
Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital, including parking facilities, are fully accessible to people with disabilities. There are wheelchairs at the main entrance, and security staff can provide personal assistance. We also have many educational materials available in large print and audiotape formats.
The Ethics Consultation Service is available for patients and families who may be facing difficult decisions and choices regarding care. Our goal is to bring together patients, families and health care providers to talk about ethical concerns and help everyone involved arrive at a resolution that is right for all.
Find practical tips and suggestions for individuals caring for a family member or friend with cancer, including creating a caregiving plan, finding community resources, and looking after your own well-being.
Friends' Place provides personal consultations to help cancer patients of all ages cope with changes in physical appearance that result from cancer treatment. Our experienced, compassionate team provides fittings for compression garments or breast prostheses, helps with wigs and other head coverings, and offers make-up and skincare advice.
The Friends' Corner Gift Shop, located on the first floor of the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, offers a wide selection of unique gifts and everyday items for patients, families and staff.
Every year, thousands of patients with cancer from around the world come to Dana-Farber for their care. We provide a wide array of logistical and other services for individuals who live outside the United States.
Dana-Farber provides interpreting services for patients whose first language is not English. Interpreters may be requested for any activity, including registration, booking appointments, attending treatments and exams, support groups, and meetings with doctors and other members of your health care team.
Just for Teens provides programs and activities for teens and young adults with cancer at the Jimmy Fund Clinic and Children's Hospital Boston. We offer activities and events both inside and out of the hospital so that you have creative ways to pass the time and can meet other teens who are going through similar experiences.
Our nutritionists are registered dietitians who can assist you in planning an optimal diet during any stage of your cancer journey, cope with any side effects you may experience, and answer your questions about the latest findings on cancer and nutrition.
The Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center and its satellite resource rooms are staffed by health care professionals and provide computer stations, books, brochures, videos, and CDs to help you find information and support on a variety of issues about cancer treatment and care.
Patients websites help friends and family members stay up-to-date on their loved ones' condition and write messages of support and encouragement.
The Dana-Farber pharmacy fills prescriptions for all pediatric and adult patients. Our pharmacists are an extension of the patient care team and work closely with your physicians to provide seamless, convenient, safe care.
More than 1,200 Dana-Farber patients and their families have enjoyed free trips to baseball games, theater shows, museums, and other attractions this year through the Recreational Resources program.
Through all stages of cancer treatment and survivorship, our Spiritual Care staff is available 24 hours a day to provide emotional and spiritual support for adults and pediatric patients and family members.
Integrative therapies, also known as complementary therapies, range from acupuncture and massage to nutritional guidance and music therapy. Patients treated at the Zakim Center credit its services with easing nausea, improving circulation, and reducing pain, stress, and anxiety associated with cancer treatment.
Leslie Lehmann, MD, explains the stem cell transplant process, and the support services available at Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center.
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