A retrospective study of patients with early-stage Burkitt lymphoma showed significant improvements in overall survival (OS) for those diagnosed with the disease between 2002 and 2014 compared with 1983 and 2001 (P=.001). Despite this, the overall survival rates in older patients (60 years or older) and younger patients (19 years or younger) did not change significantly across the time periods, according to research published in Cancer Medicine

Burkitt lymphoma, an aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is most frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage (ie, stage III/IV), with diagnosis at stage I/II being uncommon. While there is evidence that recently introduced intensive chemotherapy regimens, in addition to antiretroviral therapy and improvements in supportive care, have resulted in improved outcomes for patients with advanced Burkitt lymphoma, researchers aimed to evaluate whether these improvements were also seen in patients with early-stage disease. 

The study included 1929 patients with stage I/II Burkitt lymphoma from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database; 27.9% of patients were diagnosed between 1983 and 2001 and 72.1% were diagnosed between 2002 and 2014. Median age at diagnosis was 40 years.  

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For the overall study cohort, 5-year OS significantly improved from 57.5% during 1983 to 2001 to 64.1% during 2002 to 2014 (hazard ratio = 0.839; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.714-0.986; =.033). Furthermore, when accounting for confounding factors, OS for the overall cohort between 2002 and 2014 compared with 1983 and 2001 was significantly different (=.001). However, when the subgroup of older patients was considered separately, the difference in OS between the defined time periods was not significant (=.599). The 5-year OS rates remained poor across both eras for older patients (26.7%) and stable for younger patients (92.6%). Furthermore, survival improvements observed for the overall cohort during 2002 through 2014 compared with the previous 2 decades were not observed in subgroups of black or other non-white patients. 

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The authors stated that outcomes for elderly patients may be improved through the identification of molecularly targeted drugs and the development of novel personalized therapies. “Considering the limitations of this study, well designed clinical randomized studies should be performed to confirm our result,” they concluded.


Liu ZL, Liu PP, Bi XW, et al. Trends in survival of patients with stage I/II Burkittlymphomain the United States: ASEERdatabase analysis [published online January 31, 2019]. Cancer Med. doi: 10.1002/cam4.1870