Lymphoma in dogs, like any other cancer diagnosis, is never a ‘good news’. Nevertheless, This is one of the few malignancies that can go into remission, sometimes for years or even for the rest of his life.
What should we know about lymphoma in dogs?
This cancer affects the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system. Thus, it can be located in a particular region or it can spread throughout the body.
It is important to keep in mind that the lymphatic system includes lymph nodes, specialized lymphatic organs – such as the spleen and tonsils – and lymphatic vessels.
Together, these components of the lymphatic system perform a series of vital functions in the body, such as the movement of cells, fluids – lymph – and other substances throughout the body. Thus, the lymphatic system mediates various immune functions, including the response to toxins or infections.
Risk factors for this cancer
- Race: Although the direct cause of lymphoma is unknown, Several studies have found that there are certain races with a higher risk of developing the disease.
Breeds that show a higher incidence include Airedale, Basset Hound, Beagle, Boxer, Bulldog, Bull Mastiff, Chow Chow, German Shepherd, Poodle, Rottweiler, St. Bernard and Scottish Terrier. On the other hand, it has been reported that the dachshund and pomeranian have a lower risk of developing canine lymphoma.
- Age: affects dogs of any age, with a higher incidence in middle-aged or older dogs (with an average age of six to nine years).
- Others: they are counted as risk factors Environmental exposure to herbicides, chemicals or tobacco smoke, as well as exposure to certain viruses or even having been treated with immunosuppressive drugs, such as cyclosporine.
There are different types of lymphoma in dogs with different severity and prognosis
It is important to know that – following different criteria – this disease can be typified by different names. The classification criteria can be its anatomical location, its histology – cellular characteristics – or by its molecular characteristics.
The importance of following the typing is that, from it, its treatment is elaborated and it knows its prognosis. Here we present the classification according to its location:
- Multicentric or systemic: lymphoma is around 5% to 7% of all neoplasms in the dog –of this segment– and 80-85% of cases are classified as multicentric. In this type of lymphoma the lymph nodes of the whole body are affected.
- Food or gastrointestinal: It is the second most common type of lymphoma. These cases may present diffuse involvement along the gastrointestinal tract, including the liver and spleen, or they may be located as a mass.
- Mediastinal: It is a rare form of lymphoma. Lymphoid organs in the chest – such as lymph nodes or thymus – are affected. The regrowth of such organs causes compression that results in respiratory distress, cough and exercise intolerance, among others.
- Extranodal: in these cases a specific organ outside the lymphatic system is affected. Extranodal lymphoma is rare, but it can develop in the skin, eyes, kidneys, lungs or nervous system.
What are the symptoms of lymphoma?
In dogs with multicentric lymphoma, the first sign of lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes. Commonly, swelling of these nodes is detected by the dog’s owner or veterinarian in a routine physical exam.
Recall that the location of the most visible and easy to observe lymph nodes are in the neck, chest, armpits, groin and behind the knees. Most patients have no clinical signs of illness at the time of diagnosis; If left untreated, they will often develop signs such as weight loss and lethargy.
It should be noted that in the other less common forms of lymphoma the clinical signs depend on the affected organ. Thus, gastrointestinal lesions appear in the food, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.
In the mediastinum, injuries inside the chest commonly cause cough and shortness of breath. The effects of extranodal lymphoma vary significantly, depending on the organ involved.
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