What is Burkitt Leukemia?
Burkitt Leukemia is a rare, fast-growing type of white blood cell cancer (leukemia) in which uncontrolled division of B cells in the blood and bone marrow occurs. It can develop in the lymph nodes and then can spread to the blood and bone marrow, or it can develop in the blood or bone marrow without affecting the lymph nodes. Common sites for malignant neoplasm (cancer) are the gastrointestinal tract (usually the junction of the small intestine and large intestine, that is, the ileocecal region), the head, and the neck. Other primary but less common foci of the disease are bones, liver, kidneys, breasts, male and female reproductive organs, pancreas, chest, and abdomen. Burkitt leukemia tends to metastasize (spread) to the blood and bone marrow.
There is no well-known cause, however, a strong association between immunodeficiency, Epstein Bar virus infection, and malaria is observed in causing Burkitt Leukemia.
It is most common in children with the peak age for the occurrence of the disease being 11 years. The development of Burkitt leukemia has a strong association with the Epstein bar virus infection (EBV). Among childhood cancers, It is a common childhood cancer in Europe, North America, and Africa. The incidence of the occurrence of a new case is 3-6 cases/100,000 children per year.
Signs and symptoms
The most common site for the development of Burkitt Leukemia is the abdomen. The patient may present with the following signs and symptoms. These are
- A palpable (felt able/ touchable ) mass in the abdomen
- Nausea (It is a sensation of discomfort with an urge to vomit)
- Persistent constipation
- Weight loss
- Melana (black-coloured stool due to bleeding from the esophagus, stomach, or large intestine)
- Yellowish discolouration of the skin and sclera
- Bone pains
- Night sweats
The following diagnostic tests and procedures can be used to make a diagnosis. These are
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Serum urea and creatinine
- Lactate dehydrogenase
- Liver transaminases (ALT/AST)
- Serum bilirubin
- An antigen/antibody test for HIV
- EBV antibody test
- Bone marrow aspiration cytology or biopsy
- Lumbar puncture
- Diagnostic imaging techniques such as USG, X-Ray, CT-scan, and MRI to diagnose the site, size, and extent of the disease
Chemotherapy is the main treatment option for these patients.
What Support can we Give for Burkitt Leukemia?
Burkitt Leukemia is a rare cancer, meaning it is not as well known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. So, we provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from rare cancer such as Burkitt Leukemia we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
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