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Your child’s been tired, weak and queasy lately. And their stomach always hurts. You figured it was a bug, but they never seemed to get better.

Now you’ve been told they may have a rare childhood cancer — three words you never in a million years thought you’d hear in a conversation about your child.

Burkitt lymphoma is rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But it’s a condition that Cleveland Clinic Children’s cancer specialists know a lot about. They’ve diagnosed and treated many kids with this condition. So you can count on their expertise to give your child the very best care. And not just medically. Our pediatric cancer providers are compassionate, too. We know cancer isn’t something that’s easy to face — for your child, or for you. We’ll give you both all the support you need as you take each step in this unexpected journey.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic Children’s for Burkitt Lymphoma Care?

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Caring approach:

Our pediatric oncology team knows how overwhelming a cancer diagnosis can be for your child. Our child life specialists will patiently explain each step of the treatment process to your child in a way they can understand. And they make sure your child gets the support they need with things like art therapy, music therapy and counseling. We even have a program that helps your child get back to school after treatment.

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Comprehensive treatment:

Your child’s treatment will include the most modern chemotherapy and immunotherapy options. Their pediatric providers may also prescribe medications to help lower their chance of infection and relieve any treatment side effects.

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Specialized knowledge:

Even though Burkitt lymphoma is rare, our pediatric oncologists and hematologists (blood disorder specialists) are experts in treating this type of childhood cancer. We bring our expertise to each test, treatment and follow-up appointment. Meet our team.

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Innovation and research:

Your child may have the opportunity to participate in one of our clinical trials, giving them access to the newest medications and latest treatments before they’re widely available.

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National recognition:

U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic Children’s a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the world.

Diagnosing Burkitt Lymphoma at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

Burkitt lymphoma usually starts in your child’s abdomen (belly) or chest and may spread into their lymph nodes.

The two main types of Burkitt lymphoma in children are:

  • Sporadic: The most common type in the U.S. It typically affects kids ages 3 to 12.
  • Endemic: Most often seen in Central Africa, it’s linked to the Epstein-Barr virus (the one that causes infectious mononucleosis). Children with this type usually have facial jaw tumors.

Burkitt Lymphoma is a fast-growing and fast-spreading cancer. Symptoms can come on suddenly and get worse quickly. It can be hard to diagnose because many of the symptoms (fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, weakness and belly pain) are like those of common illnesses and infections.

But your child has a good chance of going into long-term remission (no symptoms or sign of cancer) if they start treatment right away. So getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is important.

What to expect at your first visit

Getting to know your child and helping them feel comfortable with us is very important. So your first visit will start with a conversation. We’ll ask you and your child (depending on their age) a few questions. We’ll want to know:

  • What symptoms they’ve been having.
  • When these symptoms started.
  • If they’re getting worse.
  • How these symptoms are affecting their life.
  • Your child’s medical history.
  • If any other family members have had cancer.

Your child may also get a physical exam. And we may order some tests to help us confirm a diagnosis. Before we actually do any tests, though, one of our child life specialists will sit down with your child to go over what they can expect and answer their questions. These caring providers can help ease your child’s anxiety — and yours.


Your child’s provider may order one or more of these tests:

Second Opinions for Burkitt Lymphoma

Learning your child has a rare cancer can upend your world and cause may different emotions. Making sure they have the best possible care from pediatric healthcare providers you trust is the most important thing.

That’s why, at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, we encourage second opinions. Second opinions can help put your mind at ease knowing you have the most capable and compassionate team by your child’s side. And because we know cancer doesn’t wait, we try to get you and your child in to see us as soon as possible. Our pediatric oncology team will quickly dive in, offering expertise and treatment options. They’ll answer your questions, listen to your concerns and guide you through what to expect — before, during and after treatment.

Meet Our Burkitt Lymphoma Team

The pediatric cancer specialists at Cleveland Clinic Children’s work closely with pediatric providers from many different specialties to care for your child. This team makes sure your child gets the exact care they need when they need it. Their team could include:


We offer treatment for Burkitt lymphoma at the following location in Northeast Ohio.

Treating Burkitt Lymphoma at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

If your child’s test results confirm they have Burkitt lymphoma, we’ll start personalized treatment right away. Their treatment plan will depend on the size of the tumor, where it is, how fast it’s growing and if it’s spread (metastasized).

Throughout treatment, your child’s pediatric care team will meet weekly to talk about your child’s progress and adjust their care plan if needed. They’ll also keep your family in the loop every step of the way, so you’ll always know what’s going on and what to expect.  

Your child may have a combination of these treatments:


Your child will need chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a powerful medication that destroys cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying. We’ll give your child chemo in the hospital. And we’ll watch them closely throughout their chemo treatments to see how they respond and help manage any side effects.


We’ll add immunotherapy drugs in combination with chemotherapy. These medications help your child’s immune system kill the lymphoma cells or slow their growth. We give immunotherapy through a vein in your child’s arm, which may take several hours.


Your child’s pediatric oncologist may recommend surgery if a large tumor is causing pain or a blockage. We may take out the whole tumor or just part of it. And we may do this procedure before beginning chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Fertility preservation

Cancer and its treatments can affect your child’s reproductive system in many different ways, including damaging their ovaries or testes. Your child’s pediatric providers can talk with you about ways to preserve your child’s fertility before starting their treatment plan.

Follow-up care

Your child’s care doesn’t end after treatment. Our pediatric oncology team provides long-term follow-up care for children of all ages who’ve had childhood cancer. We’ll keep a close eye on their progress after treatment and also give them the emotional support they need along the way. As they grow, our adolescent and young adult cancer program helps your child move comfortably from pediatric care to adult providers.

Taking the Next Step

Burkitt lymphoma wasn’t the diagnosis you were prepared to hear. But now that you know, you want to make sure your child has a top cancer team on their side. Our expert pediatric oncology providers are here to ease your fears. We use the latest lymphoma treatments paired with caring support and the expertise of our other pediatric specialists to give your child personalized, comprehensive and compassionate care. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, you can be sure that your child will have the very best chance for long-term remission and good health.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s Burkitt lymphoma experts is easy. We’ll help them get the care they need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s Burkitt lymphoma experts is easy. We’ll help them get the care they need.

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Mother hugging on her child, covering her shaved head due to cancer treatment.


Learning your child has cancer can be stressful, shocking and challenging. From the moment you get the news, your child is a survivor. As you face the challenges that go along with their cancer treatment and recovery — physical and emotional — we’ll be right there with you. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, survivorship care is one part of your child’s journey. Through our Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, you’ll find support for any medical and emotional challenges that may happen in the years following cancer treatment.

We’re also there for you throughout this entire journey. We offer a wide range of services, resources, clinics and support groups to help with any physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs you might have related to your child’s cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand along the way, we want your child to not only survive, but thrive on this journey and beyond.

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