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Information on Burkitt's Lymphoma Symptoms

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/14/2009

This article focuses on the symptoms of Burkitt's lymphoma. It also briefly discusses what this disease is and how it is treated.

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    Burkitt's lymphoma is a form of cancer that occurs in the lymphatic system. It is a type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. This type of lymphoma causes lymphatic system cells to reproduce abnormally which leads to tumors growing. This type of cancer is most common in children ages seven to eleven. However, it can occur at any age. It affects Caucasian males most often, but it does occur in females and in people of other races and ethnic backgrounds.

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    Signs and Symptoms

    Burkitt's lymphoma can present with several signs and symptoms. All people affected by this cancer will experience symptoms differently. Some may only experience a few symptoms and some may experience many symptoms. The symptoms will also vary in intensity and frequency between individuals. The signs and symptoms of this type of lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes (this swelling is painless) in the groin, neck, underarm, abdomen or chest, recurring infections, fever, itchy skin, sore throat, loss of appetite and weight loss, a feeling of fullness in the groin area, fatigue and pain in the joints and bones. The signs and symptoms of this type of lymphoma are similar to those of other medical problems, especially blood disorders, so this makes this type of cancer difficult to diagnose. If the signs and symptoms are present it is important to mention the suspicion of this type of lymphoma to make sure that a timely diagnosis is made if this cancer is the cause of the symptoms.

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    Diagnosis

    Diagnosing this type of lymphoma involves several different diagnostic procedures, a complete physical exam and a patient and family medical history. Patients will undergo urine and blood tests to check for the presence of certain cells and antibodies. These tests can also help to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Imaging tests include chest x-rays, lymphangiogram and CT scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to check for the presence of tumors, certain abnormalities or cancer cells. A biopsy of the lymph nodes and bone marrow may be done to check for cancer cells. In some cases a lumbar puncture may be performed to look for an cancer cells or nervous system diseases.

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    Treatment

    Treating Burkitt's lymphoma includes using several different forms of drugs and other cancer treatment methods. Chemotherapy is the most common type of treatment used to help destroy cancer cells. Radiation is often used in conjunction with chemotherapy to help shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Surgery, though is only has a limited role, can be used to remove a tumor. Stem cell transplant may be used to replace abnormal cells with healthy cells.

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    Resources

    Children's Hospital Boston. (2006). What it Burkitt's Lymphoma? Retrieved on July 26, 2009 from Website: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site2182/mainpageS2182P0.html