Burkitt's Lymphoma Fund for Africa
Burkitt’s lymphoma is the most common childhood cancer in Africa. While this type of lymphoma is rare in the United States, it is responsible for 50% of cancer deaths for children in east African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Burkitt's lymphoma is the fastest growing tumor in humans with a cell doubling time of 24 hours. Beneficially, this fast growth rate also makes Burkitt’s very responsive to chemotherapy.
In Africa, the average age of a child diagnosed with Burkitt’s is five, with some patients seen as young as 18 months old. “More than 85 percent of these children could be cured for less than $600 a case,” according to Dr. Corey Casper of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Burkitt's Lymphoma Fund for Africa, a nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington, funds programs designed to diagnose and treat BL patients in east Africa. In cooperation with US and African partners, BLFA also works to insure that patients and their families receive social, economic, and logistical support needed to help them complete treatment successfully.
BLFA has funded two programs aimed at treating over 500 Kenyan and Ugandan children suffering from Burkitt's lymphoma over the next two years.
In Kisumu, Kenya, BLFA has contracted with OGRA Foundation to provide core services throughout western Kenya. In Kampala, Uganda, BLFA is working with the Uganda Program on Cancer and Infectious Diseases and its US partner, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (also of Seattle). In both Kenya and Uganda, BLFA's US partner Direct Relief International is playing a key role in supplying drugs and medical supplies contributed by corporate donors.
We are also working with the SHED Foundation in Shirati, Tanzania, with the hope that BLFA's activities can be expanded into Tanzania soon.
The challenge we face is substantial, but the goal is clear: we seek to improve survival rates among children suffering from BL in East Africa. Our belief is that the current survival rate of 40% can be increased to over 85%, at a cost of less than $600 per child.