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Burkitt lymphoma : epidemiological features and survival in a South African centre

Stefan, Daniela C. ; Lutchman, Rabeen (2014-06)

Please cite as follows: Stefan, D. C. & Lutchman, R. 2014. Burkitt lymphoma: epidemiological features and survival in a South African centre. Infectious Agents and Cancer, 9(1):19, doi:10.1186/1750-9378-9-19.

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Background: The epidemiology of Burkitt Lymphoma (BL) shows that the endemic type is mainly confined to equatorial Africa and has a very close association with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), while the sporadic variant shows only a 20% association with EBV and is seen mainly in Europe and North America. An immunodeficent form of BL has been described more recently. This study aimed to describe the epidemiological characteristics and survival of children presenting with BL to Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town, in South Africa. Methods: A retrospective, descriptive study reviewed all pediatric cases of Burkitt lymphoma at Tygerberg Hospital Oncology Unit between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2010. The following data were analysed: age at diagnosis, gender, anatomic site, race, socio-economic demographic (rural vs. urban), treatment protocol, side effects, viral characteristics and survival. All cases were confirmed by histology and reviewed by a tumour board. Results: A total of 51 patients with Burkitt lymphoma were analysed from 1995 to 2010. Their age ranged from 2 to 14 years (mean of 6.8 years).The male to female ratio was 3.6/1. Most of the patients lived in an urban setting (52.9%). The initial presenting tumour site was abdominal in most cases (76.4%). The majority of patients (90%) were treated with the LMB protocol. Neutropenic sepsis, mucositis and gastroenteritis were the top 3 side effects while receiving therapy (58.8%, 50.9% and 31.3% respectively). The overall survival rate was 64.7%. A documented positive HIV1 test was found in 11% of the total number of patients. The stage of the disease at the time of presentation strongly influenced the outcome with only 41.6% of stage 4 patients surviving (p = 0.03). Conclusions: The patients seen at Tygerberg Hospital, South Africa presented typically with the sporadic variant of Burkitt Lymphoma. The patients presented with large abdominal masses and in an advanced stage of the disease.

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