Burkitt’s Lymphoma

This morning I was on facebook and came across an old high school friend’s status update about leaving the hospital for a couple of weeks and it drew me to look at his profile and find out why he was in the hospital in the first place.  I saw that many people had commented on his wall with sentiments.  I then found a note that he had written back in late November about what was going on.  In a nutshell, he was diagnosed with a very rare cancer called Burkitt’s Lymphoma.  His story inspired me to research and write a health blog about the disease, as many people, including myself have never even heard of it.

Burkitt’s Lymphoma is a form of cancer that most commonly occurs in children in Africa, the endemic type.  Only a very few cases occur outside of Africa; this is called the sporadic type.  There is another type of Burkitt’s Lymphoma that is associated with immunodificiency diseases, such as HIV, or in people with lowered immune systems, such as transplant patients.

It is believed that all three types are linked to the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV).  This virus is a type of herpes simplex virus.  Most people infected with EBV manifest with Infectious Mononucleosis, or Mono in lay terms.  Others infected with EBV may have no manifestation and the virus lies dormant.  In both cases, the virus still lingers.  If someone is infected with EBV at a time that their immunity is low, they are more likely to develop Burkitt’s Lymphoma later in life.  Also, if someone was infected with EBV in the past, and approaches a time when their immunity faulters, the same can occur for them.

Burkitt’s Lymphoma is most often cureable.  It is a Non-Hodgkin’s type of Lymphoma, meaning it does not show the Reed-Sternberg cell found in Hodgkin’s Disease.  The disease is most often found in the jaw, distal ilium (lower end of the large intestine), cecum (where small intestine and large intestine meet), ovaries, kidney, or breasts.  It is a lymphatic cancer so it can spread very quickly, as the lymph nodes run through the entire body and are all connected in some way.  It is treated based on where the cancer is found and when the disease is diagnosed.  Chemotherapy is most often the choice of treatment.  Since Burkitt’s is such a fast growing type of cancer, it responds very quickly to Chemotherapy and can be completely cured.

My prayers go out to Nathan and his family.  Stay strong and you can definitely beat this disease!

Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001308.htm

http://www.chereejones.com/faq.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burkitt%27s_lymphoma