Burkitt's Lymphoma is an aggressive
, quickly spreading B-cell cancer
that frequently occurs in children between the ages of 3 and 14. Most cases have been found in Central Africa. In that country, it has been linked to the presence of the Epstein-Barr virus
, a herpesvirus that also causes mononucleosis
In a few rare cases, it has also been known to appear in the United States, correlated with a different cause -- an 8-14 chromosomal translocation.
This re-arrangement of genetic material places the proto-oncogene c-myc close to a gene that codes for the production of antibodies. This changes the normal expression of c-myc, permanently "switching it on", and causes the cell to become cancerous.
Burkitt's lymphoma usually appears as a lump in the jaw or the abdomen, and spreads quickly to the rest of the body. It responds well to chemotherapy in early stages, but without treatment rapidly becomes fatal.