Veazie Veterinary Clinic
1522 State Street, Veazie, ME
(207) 941-8840

Lymphoma

General Information About Lymphoma:

Lymphoma is a name given to a complex of abnormally proliferating lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).  It can affect any species, age, or body region. The most common presenting sign we see in dogs is generalized enlarged lymph nodes. In cats, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss are more common.

Diagnosis:

Aspiration or biopsy of the affected area, followed by cytology or histopathology, are the most common techniques used to diagnose lymphoma. Sometimes we send the samples out for “typing” into either B-cell or T-cell lines. Knowing which line it is doesn’t change the treatment, but it changes the prognosis. In general, B-cell is more responsive to chemotherapy than T-cell.

Treatment:

Low grade (lymphoblastic) lymphoma is treated with a combination therapy. We use either the 19-week or 25-week Madison-Wisconsin protocol. Either way, the patient receives four cycles of intravenous treatments of vincristine-cyclophosphamide-vincristine-doxorubicin. The longer protocol gives them some weeks with no treatments, whereas the shorter keeps going with weekly treatments throughout. Patients that come out of remission after this course are treated with any of several rescue protocols.

Two other options are to either treat with doxorubicin alone (every three weeks for five treatments) or prednisone alone (for life).

Cats with high grade (lymphocytic) lymphoma of the intestinal tract are treated with oral chlorambucil and prednisolone at home (for life).

Prognosis:

These numbers are averaged across several published case reports.

CR = complete remission = the percentage of treated patients which have no detectable cancer cells after treatment (this does not mean that the patient is cured).

Median Survival = the time at which half of the treated patients are expected to still be alive.

Treatment CR rate Median Survival
Dog: Madison-Wisconsin 94% 13.2 mo
Dog: doxorubicin alone 59%-79% 7.3-9 mo
Dog: prednisone alone 50% 1 mo
Cat: Madison-Wisconsin 50%-70% 12 mo
Cat: doxorubicin alone < 50% < 12 mo
Cat: chlorambucil/pred 69% 11+ mo