Canine lymphoma is a fairly common cancer in American dogs. The most commonly seen lymphoma in America is a type called Lymphosarcoma, although treatments are essentially the same with all types of lymphoma. As it is with humans, the lymphatic system is an important part of any mammal's immune system.
The “typical” canine lymphoma patient is a middle-aged dog taken to the veterinarian because one or more lumps have been found. Most dogs are not feeling particularly sick at the time of diagnosis; it may be tempting to "hold off" on treatment to see if the pet gets worse. This is not a good idea. Waiting can drastically reduce the chances for long-term survival. Better remission rates are achieved if your pet is treated in the early stage, while it still feels healthy.
If you notice fast growing lumps on your dog that seem to be in the area of the major joints (at the neck, in front of the shoulders, in the armpits, at the back of the knees or in the groin), have your dog examined by a veterinarian, even if your pet appears to be feeling fine. The average life expectancy for a dog with untreated lymphoma is only about 2 to 4 months from the time of diagnosis.
About 50% of dogs with lymphoma can be put into remission. Lymphoma is first and foremost a disease of the immune system. It is a failure of the body to recognize the aberrant cancer cells as invaders. In order to overcome the cancer, the dog’s normal recognition response has to be triggered to allow the dog’s own system to fight the disease. Chemotherapy, and very occasionally some type of radiation therapy, are vital components to an effective treatment for lymphoma.
Some veterinarians suggest diet supplements in addition to chemotherapy for dogs with lymphoma.
Photo by Timo Balk