It is also called as ‘African jaw lymphoma’. It is a lymphoreticular cell malignancy. In the African form jaw involvement is 75% and in cases of the American form, abdomen involvement is more common. It is a B-cell neoplasm.


• Epstein-Barrvirus(EBV)which also causes nasopharyn- geal carcinoma and infectious mononucleosis is considered to be the etiological factor. There are higher EBV antibody levels in patients of Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Clinical Features

  • Age and sex—peak incidence is in children between 6to 9 years. Males are affected more commonly than the females, with a ratio of 2:1.
  • Site distribution—more are found in maxilla than in mandible, where it may spread rapidly to the floor of the orbit. Almost always occurs in molar area. In the African form, more than one quadrant is involved while in the American form, only one quadrant is involved.
  • Onsetandprogress—the most important hall mark of this tumor is the fast growth with a tumor doubling time of less than 24 hours.
  • Symptoms—the most common presenting features are swelling of the jaws, abdomen and paraplegia. It is painless.
  • Sign—peripheral lymphadenopathy is common.
  • Prognosis—it is rapidly fatal in the absence of treatment,with death occurring within 6 months.

Oral Manifestations

  • • Onset and extent—it begins generally as a rapidly growing tumor mass of the jaws, destroying the bone with extension to involve maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid sinus as well as orbit.
  • Symptoms—loosening or mobility of permanent teeth.There is gross distortion of the face due to swelling. Paresthesia and anesthesia of inferior alveolar canal or other sensory facial nerves are common.
  • Signs—gingiva and mucosa adjacent to the affected teeth become swollen, ulcerated and necrotic. As the tumor mass increases, the teeth are pushed out of their sockets. Swelling of the jaw occurs and it may cause facial asymmetry. They are capable of blocking nasal passages, displacing orbital contents and eroding through skin. There is derangement of arch and occlusion. There may be large quantity of mass protruding into the mouth, on the surface of which may be seen rootless, developing permanent teeth.
  • Spread—once the tumor perforate the bone, it is initially confined by the periosteum, but subsequently it spreads to the soft tissues of the oral cavity and face where rapid tumor growth soon obliterates the entire face and skin becomes tense and shiny.


Shows characteristic starry sky appearance.

  1. Radiographic Features
    • Motheaten appearance—small radiolucent foci scattered throughout the affected area. These small foci coalesce and form a multilocular moth eaten appearance.
    • Sunray appearance—if periosteum is elevated, it will produce sunray appearance.
    • Margins—margins are ill defined and non-corticated.
    • Shape—they expand rapidly and are ballooned shaped.
    • Teeth—Lesions are osteolytic with loss of lamina dura about the erupted teeth and crypts of developing teeth are enlarged.
    • Effect ons urrounding structures—they expand very rapidly and breach its outer cortical limits.
  1. Diagnosis
  2. • Clinical diagnosis—swelling of the jaw and abdomen with peripheral lymphadenopathy can give clue to the diagnosis.

• Radiological diagnosis—moth eaten appearance is seen with loss of lamina dura around the teeth.

• Laboratorydiagnosis—monotonous sea of un differentiated monomorphic lymphoreticular cells, usually showing abundant mitotic activity. There is also hyperchro- matosis and loss of cohesiveness. Characteristic ‘starry sky’ appearance is seen.


• Cytotoxicdrugs—cytotoxicdrugs like cyclophosphamide 40 mg/kg in single IV administration and repeated about 2 weeks later. Vincristine and methotrexate have been successful in some cases.

• Multiagent chemotherapy—combination of drugs such as cyclophosphamide, vincristine and methotrexate give better results than any single drug. Majority of patients show dramatic response to the therapy. The swelling regresses and the displaced teeth return to their normal position within 1 to 2 weeks.


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