Denis Burkitt and the African lymphoma

30 Sep 2009
I Magrath

Burkitt lymphoma has provided a model for the understanding of the epidemiology, the molecular abnormalities that induce tumours, and the treatment of other lymphomas. It is important to remember that the early phases of this work were conducted in Africa where today, unfortunately, the disease usually results in death because of limited resources, even though most children in more developed countries are cured. This must be changed. In addition, it is time to re-explore, with modern techniques, some of the questions that were raised some 50 years ago shortly after Burkitt’s first description, as well as new questions that can be asked only in the light of modern understanding of the immune system and the molecular basis of tumor development. The African lymphoma has taught us much, but there is a great deal still to be learned.

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