Progressive or relapsed Burkitt lymphoma or leukemia in children and adolescents after BFM-type first-line therapy

Blood. 2020 Apr 2;135(14):1124-1132. doi: 10.1182/blood.2019003591.


Children with refractory or relapsed Burkitt lymphoma (BL) or Burkitt leukemia (B-AL) have a poor chance to survive. We describe characteristics, outcome, reinduction, and transplantation approaches and evaluate risk factors among children with progression of a BL/B-AL included in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma-Berlin-Frankfurt-Münster studies between 1986 and 2016. Treatment recommendation was reinduction including rituximab from the early 2000s followed by blood stem cell transplantation. The 3-year survival of the 157 children was 18.5 ± 3%. Survival significantly improved from 11 ± 3% before to 27 ± 5% after 2000 (P < .001), allowing for risk factor analyses among the latter 75 patients. Survival of 14 patients with relapse after initial therapy for low-risk disease (R1/R2) was 50 ± 13% compared with 21 ± 5% for 61 patients progressing after R3/R4 therapy (P < .02). A total of 25 of 28 patients with progression during first-line therapy, 31 of 32 with progression during reinduction, 15 of 16 not reaching a complete remission (CR) before transplantation, 9 of 10 treated with rituximab front-line, and all 13 patients not receiving rituximab during reinduction died. Forty-six patients received stem cell transplantation (20 autologous, 26 allogeneic). Survival after a regimen combining rituximab with continuous-infusion chemotherapy followed by allogeneic transplantation was 67 ± 12% compared with 18 ± 5% for all other regimen and transplantations (P = .003). Patients with relapsed BL/B-AL have a poor chance to survive after current effective front-line therapies. Progression during initial or reinduction chemotherapy and initial high-risk disease are risk factors in relapse. Time-condensed continuous-infusion reinduction followed by stem cell transplantation forms the basis for testing new drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • Rituximab