- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Burkitt's lymphoma

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Malign tumor in facial and maxillary bones, which also may involve the kidneys, liver, ovaries, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, testes, and gastrointestinal tract. Onset in infancy to adolescence, most often between 3 and 8 years of age. Presenting with a rapidly growing tumor in the jawbones and orbital region, or abdomen. In Africa, facial bone involvement prevalent. In other countries, abdominal tumours predominate Most frequently seen in central equatorial Africa, in areas up to 1500 meters above sea level where the temperature never falls below 12°C and the annual rain fall is at least 60 cm. Cases have also been reported from New Guinea, Colombia, and India. The spread hints that insect vectors are determinates. The disease has a strong connection to Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the family herpesviridae. The disease accounts for over half of all childhood cancers in Africa, where it affects about two out of 100,000 children every year. It is now also seen in AIDS patients.

A similar disease picture was described in 1905 by the English physician Albert Ruskin Cook (1870–1951), a missionary physician in Uganda.


  • A. R. Cook:
    Uganda Memories. 1897-1940. 1945.
    This is the only work we have found by Cook.
  • D. P. Burkitt:
    A sarcoma involving the jaws in African children.
    British Journal of Surgery, London, 1958-1959, 46: 218-223.
  • D. Burkitt, G. T. O'Connor:
    Malignant lymphoma in African Children.
    Cancer, Philadelphia, 1961, 14: 258-269.
  • D. P. Burkitt:
    The discovery of Burkitt’s lymphoma.
    Cancer, Philadelphia, 1983, 51: 1777-1786.

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