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Burkitt’s lymphoma in Uganda: the role of immunohistochemistry in diagnosis

R. Lukande, H.R. WABINGA, L.K. Tumwine


Background: Haematoxylin and eosin staining has remained the standard diagnostic method for Burkitt’s lymphoma. Ancillary tests including immunohistochemistry, not widely available in developing countries, are important tools in verifying the diagnosis of lymphomas with equivocal
morphological findings.
Objective: To evaluate the reliability of haematoxylin and eosin staining in the diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma using immunohistochemistry as the gold standard.
Design: Cross sectional study.
Setting: Department of Pathology laboratory, Makerere University Medical School, Uganda.
Subjects: One hundred and thirty eight formalin fixed paraffin embedded biopsies of Burkitt’s lymphoma diagnosed from January 2001 to December 2005.
Results: Of the 138 tumours, 88.4% were extra-nodal: jaw 36.2%, ovary 21%, gastrointestinal tract 12.3% other abdominal 11.6%. Males (55.8%) predominated. The sensitivity and specificity of haematoxylin and eosin were 93.2% and 50% respectively. The positive and negative predictive
values were 91.7% and 55.6%.
Conclusion: Histology using haematoxylin and eosin staining is sensitive in the diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma but not very specific. Immunohistochemical staining with CD20, Ki-67 and bcl-2 is necessary for difficult cases.

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