Burkitt’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, is a rare form of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) that most commonly affects children.
Also known as Burkitt lymphoma, this cancer comes in three main clinical variants – sporadic, endemic and immunodeficiency-associated types. While the endemic variant (which is linked to malaria) is more common in equatorial Africa (where nearly half of all childhood cancers are Burkitt’s lymphoma), the sporadic variant mainly affects children in Europe and the Americas (where up to 40 percent of all pediatric lymphoma cases are classified as Burkitt’s lymphoma).
Immunodeficiency-associated Burkitt’s lymphoma is most commonly associated with the HIV infection. It can also occur in post-transplant patients who are taking immunosuppressive drugs and can be associated with AIDS.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Burkitt’s Lymphoma
It may only take a few days or weeks for the symptoms of this rare form of cancer to emerge. One common symptom to watch out for is enlarged or swollen lymph nodes – especially in the neck, armpits and groin area. Other parts of the body can also be affected for those with Burkitt’s lymphoma including the abdomen, bowels and may even impact bone marrow. It can potentially spread to the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
Burkitt’s Lymphoma Risk Factors
There is an abundance of research that suggests a link between the Epstein Barr Virus and Burkitt’s lymphoma, but other risk factors also exist including body-mass index, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and allergic and autoimmune conditions.
Prognosis for Burkitt’s Lymphoma
While Burkitt’s lymphoma can be a devastating disease, there is some good news. Between 2002 and 2008, for example, the 5-year survival rate went from 71% to 87% in children between birth and 19 years of age. For those aged 20 to 39, the survival rate improved from 35% to 60%, and for patients older than 40 years old, the survival rate improved as well.
Treatment for Burkitt’s Lymphoma
There is hope for those with this rare form of NHL. While a diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma can be troubling – particularly for children – innovative cancer therapies are emerging and bringing hope to many.
Rafael Pharmaceuticals, for example, a leader in the growing field of cancer metabolism-based therapeutics, has initiated patient enrollment for a Phase II Burkitt’s lymphoma clinical trial of CPI-613® (devimistat) for patients age 18 years and older with relapsed or refractory Burkitt’s lymphoma/leukemia.
CPI-613® (devimistat) is a first-in-class drug developed through Rafael’s Altered Metabolism Directed (AMD) platform. CPI-613® targets altered regulation of metabolic processes specific to cancer cells. It is highly specific, simultaneously attacks multiple targets, minimally toxic and has demonstrated broad spectrum activity across a wide variety of cancers. CPI-613® has been evaluated in 18 ongoing or completed trials as a single agent, as well as in combination with standard drug therapy for hematological malignancies and solid tumors.