Doctors in Italy treated a patient who was diagnosed with both primary gastric Burkitt lymphoma (PGBL) and malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This is a rare disease combination.
The doctors in this case had a hard time reaching the correct diagnosis because the symptoms of these two cancers are very similar. The patient also did not have the usual risk factors for these cancers. For instance, the patient did not have any exposure to asbestos that might cause MPM.
Two Rare Diseases
MPM is a rare type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and chest wall. Signs and symptoms may include shortness of breath due to fluid around the lung, chest pain, cough, and fatigue.
PGBL is also a rare type of cancer that starts growing in the stomach. It is caused by a type of white blood cell called B-lymphocytes that become cancerous. PGBL is usually linked to infections like HIV and Epstein-Barr virus. It spreads quickly to other parts of the body and is hard for doctors to diagnose.
In this case, an elderly man went to the hospital after having trouble breathing. His doctors ran some scans and discovered fluid build-up around his lungs and a mass in his stomach.
The doctors decided that they needed to look at a sample of the affected tissues. They performed two procedures to collect samples from the stomach and from the lungs. After testing these sample tissues, the doctors were able to diagnose the patient with PGBL and MPM.
The patient was able to undergo another surgery to drain the fluid around his lungs. He was scheduled to receive an abdominal surgery as well, but sadly passed away before the procedure.
This unique case report shows how hard it can be for doctors to find tumors like PGBL and MPM early, especially in patients who do not have the usual risk factors. It is also hard when these cancers are so rare and little is known about the best way to diagnose and treat them.
Spaziani E, Di Filippo AR, Valle G, Spaziani M, Francioni P, Caruso G, Tamagnini GT, Mosciatti E, Picchio M, De Cesare A. A rare case of primary gastric Burkitt’s lymphoma associated with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Ann Ital Chir. 2023 Mar 6;12:S2239253X23039221. PMID: 36924064.