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Lymphosarcoma (Lymphoma) in Dogs

By: Dr. Kimberly Cronin

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Treatment for lymphosarcoma may include one or more of the following:

  • Chemotherapy is the most commonly recommended treatment for dogs with lymphosarcoma. A dog is said to be in remission when clinical evidence of the cancer disappears after treatment. Achievement of remission by chemotherapy does not mean that the animal is cured, and cancer is likely to return if treatment is discontinued.

    Several different drugs alone or in combination have been used during the past 30 years to treat lymphosarcoma in dogs.

    The commonly used drugs include:

  • Prednisone (a cortisone-like drug)

  • Vincristine (Oncovin)

  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)

  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)

  • L-asparaginase (Elspar)

  • Cytosine arabinoside (Cytosar)

    Depending upon the drug, treatment can be given by injection under the skin (subcutaneously), intravenously or by mouth (orally). Combinations of these drugs work better than a single drug.

    A protocol is an outline of the treatment plan consisting of:

  • What drugs are used

  • Dosages of the drugs

  • Route of administration

  • How frequently treatments are administered

  • How long treatment is continued

    Several different protocols have been used to treat lymphosarcoma in dogs and actual treatment may vary from veterinarian to veterinarian. In addition, adjustments to the protocol may be made depending upon the patient.

    The most common adverse effects of cancer chemotherapy are gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea) or a decreased white blood cell count, which may increase the risk of secondary infection. Dogs generally do not experience the hair loss that affects humans undergoing chemotherapy. In fact, dogs usually tolerate chemotherapy much better than do humans. The risk of a serious adverse effect that would require hospitalization is small (perhaps 5 to 10 percent). If adverse effects do occur, your veterinarian may change the protocol to prevent these adverse effects during future treatments.

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