Burkitt’s Like lymphoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma or Diffuse Large B-Cell lymphoma?

When I was first Diagnosed with Cancer I was told I had Diffuse large B-Cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Then the samples were sent off to Mayo clinic who has one of the largest clinical laboratories in the world. The pathology report took an additional 14 days to come back from Mayo clinic and they said that it was actually Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL) and my Oncologist said Burkitt’s Like lymphoma (BLL), but while we were waiting I had a round of R-CHOP to save my life. Why is this important? Because the treatment for DLBCL isn’t likely to cure Burkitt’s lymphoma. They immediately stopped the treatment for DLBCL gave me a short time to recover and started me on a treatment protocol appropriate for Burkitt’s lymphoma.

What this means is it isn’t always straight forward when it comes to diagnosing Burkitt’s lymphoma, Burkitt’s Like lymphoma or Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. If they get it mixed up a person that actually has DLBCL might get high does chemotherapy that they don’t need.  While people that actually have Burkitt’s lymphoma might not get the appropriate treatment that will stop Burkitt’s lymphoma.

This is why the Biopsies are so important for initial diagnosis.  It is up to the pathology lab to get the diagnosis right and in my case where they couldn’t tell exactly what I had they sent it off to someone that could give them clarification and possibly saved my life.

The National Cancer Institute says that Gene expressions can accurately Diagnose Burkitt’s lymphoma according to an article published in 2006.

“The value of molecular profiling to accurately diagnosis Burkitt’s lymphoma versus DLBCL will have a major impact on patients because the treatment for these two lymphomas is very different,” said Louis Staudt, M.D., Ph.D., deputy chief of the Metabolism Branch and head of the Molecular Biology of Lymphoid Malignancies Section in NCI’s Center of Cancer Research, as well as research team co-leader. “If Burkitt’s patients are treated with intensive therapy, there is roughly an 80 percent survival rate. However, if they are misdiagnosed and treated with the therapy recommended for DLBCL, lower intensity chemotherapy, the survival rate is reversed to 20 percent or even less.”


Jeff Runyan
Stage IV Burkitt’s lymphoma survivor
R-CHOP, CODOX-M/IVAC (R), 17 cycles of radiation.



Leave a Reply