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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Burkitt lymphoma

Other Names for this Disease
  • BL
  • Burkitt's lymphoma
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Your Question

My boyfriend was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma at the age of 22 after experiencing night sweats, weight loss, pain in his jaw and a bad back. He underwent 4 months of chemo and intrathecal chemo and has been in remission. As Burkitt is so rare, there is a lack of research determining whether the treatment is curative or palliative and I want to know what the chances are that it will return. I am also concerned as to whether it is hereditary. His brother was born with CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects learning, growth and the ability to hear.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is the chance of recurrence for individuals who have had Burkitt lymphoma?

Approximately 90% of pediatric patients and up to 50-60% of adults with Burkitt lymphoma (BL) or Burkitt-like lymphoma treated with current intensive chemotherapy regimens have long-term disease-free survival.[1]

The majority of relapses occur during the first year of treatment for BL. Failure to achieve complete remission is often associated with poor prognosis. Individuals who remain disease-free at 10-12 months are considered cured, although reports of delayed relapses have been described in the African population and in individuals with HIV infection.[1]

After chemotherapy is completed, it is typically recommended that individuals be monitored at least every 2 months during the first year, then every 3 months the following year, and every 6 months thereafter.[1]
Last updated: 6/26/2012

Is Burkitt lymphoma inherited?

Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is typically not inherited; it is thought to be sporadic.[2] It generally occurs in individuals with no history of the condition in the family.

There is evidence that BL can be caused by changes (mutations) in the MYC gene in addition to exchanges of genetic material (translocations) involving the MYC gene and immunoglobulin genes (genes that provide instructions for antibodies).[3] However, these genetic changes are not inherited; they occur in the affected cells of affected individuals and are acquired during the lifetime. They are not passed on to offspring.

There was a report in 1986 which described 2 sisters in an American family who died of BL at ages 11 and 22 years. Their mother and 2 healthy brothers were known to have lymphocyte abnormalities. It was suggested that in this case, an inherited abnormality of lymphocytes was the cause for familial aggregation of BL.[3]
Last updated: 6/27/2012

Is there a known association between Burkitt lymphoma and CHARGE syndrome when they occur in the same family?

A thorough search of available resources does not yield any information about an association between Burkitt lymphoma and CHARGE syndrome.
Last updated: 6/27/2012