Lymphosarcoma is one of the most common types of cancers seen. It is also referred to as lymphoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In dogs, many different species develop Lymphosarcoma. Like any other cancer, this one can “metastasize”, which means it can spread and affect other organs and tissues.
Most dogs get a type of Lymphosarcoma that originates the lymph nodes and usually the nodes under the jaw get swollen. Sometimes this is the only symptom your dog will have. But the jaw is not the only place where this disease can begin. Some forms of Lymphosarcoma begin in the bone marrow, the chest, abdomen, or even the skin and usually originate in lymphoid tissues, like the lymph nodes, spleen. However, they can arise in any tissues in the body. Lymphoma accounts for approximately 7-24% of all canine neoplasia (formation of a new tissue) and 83% of all canine hematopoietic (blood cells) malignancies.
Lymphoma is generally seen in middle aged to older dogs (median age, 6-9 years). Breeds that are believed to have a higher incidence of lymphoma comprise Boxers, Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Saint Bernards, Scottish Terriers, Airedales and Bull dogs. Dogs with a lower risk include Dachshunds and Pomerians. Neutered females tend to have a better prognosis.
Canine Lymphosarcoma Cancer
Diagnosis of Lymphosarcoma Cancer
It is difficult to detect the Lymphosarcoma because it can spread to many places in the body. So full analysis is essential to determine this disease and also establish the stage of disease. It is very important to determine the stage of the disease and decide the kind of treatment and the right dosage.
Vets usually do the following tests in order to detect the stages:
* Cytology; checking the lymph node cells
* Blood work
* Abdominal radiographs
* Abdominal ultrasound
* Bone marrow analysis
Most of the times, the vets do just a few of the tests listed above. Even a few of the tests alone can determine the stage and if the dog can be submitted to the treatment.
Lymphosarcoma Disease Stages of Evolution
Lymphosarcoma has 4 stages.
In stage I the cancer exists in just one lymph node. This stage is rarely diagnosed in pets.
In stage II the disease has spread to more than one node and has occupied a body region.
In stage III the cancer is in the nodes but has spread in the body.
In stage IV the Lymphosarcoma has reached the liver or the spleen.
There is also a stage V and it refers to all the stages above but with cancer spread to the bone marrow or the blood or any other organ.
The main stages have sub stages: “A” and “B”.
“A” means the patient doesn’t have the illness. “B” means the patient displays clinical symptoms like fluid in the lungs, vomiting or diarrhea.
Stage IIIA is the earliest detected and it can be treated.
Lymphosarcoma Cancer Treatment
Many people have heard of chemotherapy. This means treatment with chemicals. The dog anti-cancer drugs, orally, intravenously, or subcutaneously. The good fact is that animals have a high tolerance to anti-cancer drugs, far better than humans. Also, side effects because of the treatment appear only in 5 cases out of 100.
Some of the most common questions a dog owner has are:
Is the dog going to lose the hair?
Usually, they don’t. But poodles and old English Sheepdogs are predisposed to lose their hair after chemotherapy. But don’t worry. It will grow back. Keep in mind that Lymphosarcoma treatable but not curable.
Will the disease come back and how long will it last?
This depends on the type of Lymphosarcoma the dog has. But with the latest medical advances, approximately 90% of dogs achieve a complete remission. The average remission is between 8 and 12 months.
What happens after the dog comes out of remission?
It can be treated just like the first time. Also, the second and third remissions are treatable.
The whole cost of the treatment begins at about $500 and can go up to $2,000 in case of a large pet.