Canine Lymphoma Treatment

Canine lymphoma treatment varies according to the location and type of lymphoma present. In order to determine the treatment that’s suited to the pet, it’s necessary to understand canine lymphoma and its forms. Since lymphocytes are present all through the dog’s body, canine lymphoma can develop in any area. The symptoms of lymphoma are also directly related to the location of lymphoma.

Types of Canine Lymphoma:

  • Multicentric lymphoma that develops in the lymph nodes.
  • Gastrointestinal lymphoma that manifests itself in tumors present in the stomach, gastrointestinal tract and abdomen.
  • Mediastinal lymphoma that occurs in the pet’s thymus and is also termed as thymic lymphoma.
  • Extranodal lymphoma that develops in the pet’s skin, nervous system and bone marrow.

Diagnosis of Canine Lymphoma

In order to detect canine lymphoma, the vet will perform a physical examination to determine swollen lymph nodes. Urine and blood tests are also performed to rule out underlying conditions. The vet will then conduct a biopsy to confirm the presence of lymphosarcoma. Biopsies reveal the severity of cancer and help to choose the appropriate treatment protocol. Fine needle aspirate, x-ray and ultrasounds are additional diagnostic aids that detect lymphoma in the abdomen or the internal organs. A proper diagnosis is important as it’s necessary to know if the cancer has spread to different parts in the body.

Treatment of Canine Lymphoma

Most pets suffering from lymphoma are treated with chemotherapy. Surgery is sometimes performed on pets, if the tumors are accessible and don’t involve the organs. However, the risks of performing surgery are always considered before tumor removal. Surgery is also followed by chemotherapy medication. Another common treatment option is known as combination therapy. It involves the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to slow disease progression.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

Most pets respond favorably to chemotherapy as the drugs used, effectively kill cancer cells. However healthy cells and tissues may also get damaged with the medication. Doxorubicin, prednisone and cyclophosphamide are the most commonly used chemotherapy drugs. The treatment protocol varies according to the severity of lymphoma and initial response to treatment. The medication is available in both oral and injection form. Radiation therapy uses gamma rays or photons to penetrate the nucleus of the tumor and kill cancerous cells. Pets are anesthetized before radiation therapy is performed. Additional ultrasounds and x-rays are also required to predetermine the specific location for treatment.

Effectiveness of Medication

A multi-drug protocol uses a combination of drugs that are administered weekly for a course of nearly 8 weeks. The medication is then continued after periodic intervals, in order to slow down cell division and prolong survival. The survival time of dog’s suffering from lymphoma also varies if the pet is diagnosed with underlying health conditions. Pet owners, who choose not to treat the dogs with lymphoma, should expect a very limited life-expectancy. Chemotherapy works best and keeps pets comfortable for a year longer. The prognosis is not good for dog’s suffering from an advanced stage of lymphoma, or lymphoma that’s spread to different organs in the body.

Dogs suffering from lymphoma require, pet owners commitment in terms of time and money. It’s best to speak to a veterinary oncologist to determine the treatment that’s suited to the dog.