How To Treat Canine Lymphoma

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Canine Lymphoma, also know as Canine Lymphosarcoma, is a malignant cancer that involves the lymph nodes found throughout the dog's body. This cancer is sometimes found in the spleen and liver. This cancer most commonly affects middle-aged and older dogs.

There are five forms of Canine Lymphoma, which are classified depending upon the primary site of the tumor:

  1. Multicentric affects the peripheral nodes located in the body. This is the most common form of Canine Lymphoma.
  2. Cutaneous affects the skin and is the rarest form of Canine Lymphoma.
  3. Extranodal is a combination of other sites in the body that can be affected by this type of cancer, including the eyes, brain and spinal cord, bones, heart, kidneys, bladder and nasal cavity.
  4. Alimentary is located in the stomach and intestines.
  5. Mediastinal is located in the front part of the chest and leads to fluid on the chest.

Symptoms of Canine Lymphoma include:

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Enlarged lymph nodes
  3. Lack of energy
  4. Decreased appetite
  5. Weight loss
  6. Increased thirst
  7. Increased urinary output

Diagnosis of Canine Lymphoma by a veterinarian can include:

  1. A physical exam to determine if there are any enlarged lymph nodes
  2. A blood count, serum chemistry profile and urinalysis
  3. X-rays
  4. An abdominal ultrasound
  5. A biopsy

Treatment of Canine Lymphoma is the use of chemotherapy. This is accomplished by:

  1. Administer the drugs L-Asparaginase, Vincristine, Cytoxan and/or Adriamycin
  2. Treat weekly for 4 to 6 months.
  3. Rotate drug use. Rotating drug use reduces the chances of the cancerous cells to become resistant to the treatment| and reduces the amount of side effects of the drugs being used.
  4. Treat once every 2 weeks from 6 months to 1 year if the dog is in remission.
  5. Treat once every 3 weeks after 1 year.
  6. Discontinue treatment after 1 ½ years.

The prognosis of a dog with Canine Lymphoma is for the dog to live only 4 to 6 weeks if no treatment is administered. If the dog is treated using chemotherapy, the dog has an 84% chance of remission. When remission ends and the cancer begins to spread again, the dog can be put back on treatment and will probably go back into remission. But the side effects from the chemotherapy are usually worse and the length of the second remission is usually only half as long as the first remission.

A veterinarian will customize the drugs used in treatment and the exact schedule of when they will be used for each dog. Each individual treatment will depend on how quickly the cancer is spreading, as well as the overall health of the dog at the time of diagnosis with Canine Lymphoma.


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