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Burkitt lymphoma

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Burkitt lymphoma symptoms and diagnosis

The main symptom of Burkitt lymphoma is having swollen lymph nodes (glands). Other symptoms depend on where the lymphoma cells collect.

Lymphoma cells can collect in your lymph nodes (glands), causing them to swell into lumps. These can be in your neck, armpit or groin.

The lymphoma cells can also collect in other areas of your body, such as your bowel, stomach area (abdomen), liver and spleen, and cause symptoms including:

  • night sweats that soak your clothes and bedding.
  • high temperature (fever)
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • pain in your abdomen
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick (vomiting).

If the lymphoma affects your bone marrow, you might not have enough blood cells, and this can cause:

  • weakness
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • higher risk of infection
  • higher risk of bleeding.

Information for young adults

For young adults with leukaemia, lymphoma or any blood cancer type. Your guide to treatment, side effects, coping with emotions, friends and work or study.

Tests to diagnose Burkitt lymphoma

Your doctors will need to do different tests before they make a diagnosis.

A doctor takes a sample of bone marrow - usually from the back of your hip. A specialist doctor then looks at the cells or tissue under a microscope.

Find out more about bone marrow biopsies.

Your doctor will remove all or part of a lymph node during a short operation. They send the sample to the laboratory to be looked at under a microscope.

These tests look for gene changes in your cells. Specialist doctors will check for problems in your c-myc gene and other genes linked to Burkitt lymphoma.

Read more about genetic testing.

You will have tests to see if the lymphoma has developed in other parts of your body, including:

Stages of Burkitt lymphoma

Doctors use a process called staging to see if the lymphoma has spread, and where to. This helps to plan your treatment.

The stages range from Stage 1 to Stage 4. In Stage 1 the lymphoma cells are in one area of your body (usually the lymph nodes), in Stage 4 they have spread to the bone marrow and/or your brain and spinal cord.

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