Treating Lymphoma in Dogs with Cyclophosphamide

Lymphoma in dogs is an uncommon but serious medical condition. Affecting mostly older dogs or those with weakened immune systems, lymphoma is an aggressive form of cancer that is fatal if left untreated. As with other types of canine cancer, there are a number of different treatment options available depending upon your pet's case and condition. While surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatment may be necessary in order to eliminate the cancerous growth, your veterinarian may also prescribe medicines like Cyclophosphamide to help address the tumor and the symptoms.

Overview of Cyclophosphamide

Cyclophosphamide is classified as a nitrogen mustard-based drug, and is used primarily to address tumor growth. It functions by interfering with a cell's DNA, eliminating that cell's ability to reproduce and effectively killing it. It targets cells that grow and reproduce quickly, leaving non-cancer cells alone.

Cyclophosphamide is not designed for use in veterinary medicine. Rather, it is a human-approved drug that some veterinarians prescribe as an extra-label drug for use in pets suffering from lymphoma. The common brand names of this drug are Neosar and Cytoxan. Because it isn't approved by the FDA for use in pets, it is available only through a veterinarian's prescription, and some vets may refuse to or be unable to issue a prescription for you.

Treatment Procedure with Cyclophosphamide

A Cyclophosphamide treatment is never given as a singular drug treatment plan for a case of veterinary lymphoma. Your vet may prescribe is along with other drugs and treatment methods in order to eliminate the cancerous growth in your pet's system.

Dosing for Cyclophosphamide depends upon your pet's weight. Typically, your vet will prescribe the medicine in tablet form, although it does come available as an injection as well. Doses are generally administered once per day for the duration of the treatment, which may last for weeks. As with other drugs, it is important to continue the treatment program throughout the full recommended regimen, even if your pet's symptoms begin to improve.

Other Considerations

Cyclophosphamide is not advised for use in dogs with known allergies to any related substances, or for animals that have other issues related to fast-growing cells. Bone marrow disease is an example of a condition that would preclude a pet from treatment with Cyclophosphamide.

Some of the common side effects of Cyclophosphamide treatment include the following:

  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bladder problems

It is important to stay in close contact with your veterinarian throughout the entire treatment procedure. If you notice any adverse effects, or if your pet seems to experience any unusual symptoms that are not listed above, speak with a veterinarian immediately. Some animals do experience allergic reactions to Cyclophosphamide.

Lymphoma is a serious medical condition that requires prompt and comprehensive treatment. Each case is unique, and the treatment for your pet's condition depends upon a variety of factors, including his prior health and preexisting conditions, his age and breed, and the progression and severity of the cancer. Speak with your vet about whether Cyclophosphamide is an appropriate component of your treatment plan.