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Canine Lymphoma(Lymphosarcoma)

Lymphoma represents a common neoplasia of dogs affecting the entire lymphatic system including the spleen, thymus and liver. The cause of canine lymphoma is unknown however there are known viral causes in other species such as the feline. There is no predisposition for lymphoma, but there are higher numbers in the German Shepherd and Boxers. The disease affects primarily middle age to older animals but can occur in younger dogs.

The disease is usually described by location of the tumor i.e. Multicentric or nodal (Peripheral lymph nodes and usually includes liver and spleen), Alimentary( Gastrointestinal tract), Mediastinal( Lymph nodes within the mediastinum), and Extra Nodal. Extra nodal forms of lymphoma are less common. They involve non lymphoid tissues such as bone, eyes, brain, heart , white blood cells (leukemic), skin, kidneys etc. Extranodal forms account for a minority (less than 15%) of lymphomas.

In addition, the World Health Organization stages lymphoma by the extent of the disease:

Stage 1. Limited to one node or organ

Stage 2. Involvement of many nodes in a region

Stage 3. General node involvement Stage 4. Liver or spleen plus or minus stage 3

Stage 5. Metastasis to bone marrow with or without Stages 1-4

Signs of Lymphoma will vary depending on the location of the tumors. Often dogs are presented with non specific signs. However, most lymphomas are associated with anorexia, GI upset and weight loss. Often lymph node enlargement is palpable. Some dogs are presented with signs of liver failure which can include jaundice and anemia.

A diagnosis is made with a biopsy of a lymph node, spleen or liver for histopathology. Staging the extent of lymphoma involves hematology, blood chemistries, bone marrow aspirates, radiographs and ultrasound.

Therapy for nodal lymphomas are well described and available to the practitioner in the field. Success for remission with chemotherapy is very good and the quality of life remains excellent. Success rates are a function of tumor location. Bone marrow involvement has a poorer prognosis. Remissions for nodal forms of two years or more are possible. Side effects of chemotherapy found in human patients are often absent in the dog. However, evaluation of hematology parameters are important to monitor toxicity. Without therapy most lymphoma patients succumb within 2 months of the diagnosis. Therapy for extranodal lymphoma usually requires surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation with follow up diagnostics checking for reoccurrence. Success is dependent on the location of the extranodal lymphoma.





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