Burkitt lymphoma and MYC: what else is new?

Adv Anat Pathol. 2014 May;21(3):160-5. doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3182a92cde.


Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is the most common non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents, but at least 30% of cases occur in patients older than 60 years, and the absolute number of BL cases in adults exceeds those in childhood. BL is described as a monomorphic proliferation of medium-sized transformed B cells with round nuclei, clumped chromatin, basophilic cytoplasm, and squared-off cell borders, cytoplasmic vacuoles, medium-sized paracentral nucleoli, and a starry sky pattern. Translocation involving MYC is characteristic but not specific for BL. No single parameter is the gold standard for diagnosis; morphology, cytogenetics, immunophenotype, and gene expression profiles all may contribute to the diagnosis. Although neither EBV nor MYC are sufficient to cause BL there is increasing information from techniques such as complete RNA sequencing that identify essential pathways that are activated in the pathogenesis of BL. These findings suggest novel opportunities for improved therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burkitt Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Genes, myc / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Translocation, Genetic*