Lymphosarcoma (lymphoma) is a malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system. In a healthy animal, the lymphoid system is an important part of the body’s defense against infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. Lymphoid tissue normally is found in many different parts of the body including lymph nodes, liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract and skin. Lymphosarcoma is classified according to the location in the body in which the cancer begins.
In dogs, the most common form of lymphosarcoma is the multicentric form (80 percent of all dogs with lymphoma have this form). Frequently, owners notice lumps under the neck or in other locations. These lumps represent the enlarged lymph nodes. In cats, the most common form is the gastrointestinal form. Signs are vague and include lethargy, inappetance and vomiting.
Lymphosarcoma occurs in middle-aged to older pets. Breeds of dogs that are at a higher than average risk of developing this disease include Rottweilers, Scottish terriers, Golden retrievers, Basset hounds, and German shepherds. There are no predisposed cat breeds. Males and females are affected equally.
Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:
- Lymphoma is generally diagnosed by fine needle aspirate and microscopic examination of enlarged lymph nodes, biopsy of lumps or enlarged lymph nodes or by endoscopy and biopsy of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian. The most common treatment for lymphoma is chemotherapy. Sometimes radiation therapy and/or surgery can be beneficial. Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.
What to Watch for*:
- Enlargement of external lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased thirst or urinations
*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!