Burkitt’s lymphoma is a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer of the lymphatic system, which helps your body fight infections.
Burkitt’s lymphoma is most common in children living in sub-Saharan Africa, where it’s related to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and chronic malaria. Burkitt’s lymphoma is also seen elsewhere, including the United States. Outside of Africa, Burkitt’s lymphoma is most likely to occur in people who have a compromised immune system. The exact cause of Burkitt’s lymphoma is unknown. Risk factors vary according to geographic location. Research suggests that Burkitt’s lymphoma is the most common childhood cancer in regions where there is a high incidence of malaria, like Africa. Elsewhere, the greatest risk factor is HIV. Burkitt’s lymphoma is most likely to affect children. It’s rare in adults. The disease is more common in males and people with compromised immune systems, like those who have HIV. The incidence is higher in:
- North Africa
- Middle East
- South America
- Papua New Guinea
Sporadic and endemic forms are associated with EBV. Insect-borne viral infections and herbal extracts that promote tumor growth are possible contributing factors.