Soft Tissue Sarcomas in Dogs
Lymphoma (Lymphosarcoma) continued...
Chest involvement results in pleural effusion and severe shortness of
breath. Skin involvement produces itchy patches or nodules on
the surface of the skin that mimic other skin diseases. Intestinal involvement
A complete blood
count may show anemia
and immature white blood cells. The serum calcium is elevated
in 20 percent of dogs with lymphoma. Blood and liver function tests are usually
abnormal. A bone marrow biopsy is helpful in determining if the disease is
Chest and abdominal X-rays and ultrasonography are particularly valuable in
identifying enlarged lymph nodes, organs, and masses. A diagnosis can also be
made by fine needle aspiration of an enlarged lymph node. In questionable
cases, the entire lymph node should be removed for more complete
A company in Great Britain called Pet Screening offers a genetic screening
test for canine lymphoma, based on genetic markers in a blood sample. They
suggest periodic screenings to detect lymphomas early on.
Treatment: Lymphoma localized to a single lymph node may be cured by
surgical removal of the involved node. However, in most dogs the disease is
widespread and a cure is unlikely. Chemotherapy using several agents offers the
best chance of remission, which may last a year or longer. When a dog comes out
of remission, chemotherapy “rescue protocols” may be used to induce a second or
even a third remission.
Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor of the vascular tissues. This cancer may be
noticed as a lump on a rib or an abdominal swelling, but can progress unnoticed
while growing on the heart, liver, or spleen. The cancerous growths are quite
fragile and often break off, “seeding” cancer throughout the body.
Alternatively, the first sign may be sudden death as a large area of tumor
ruptures and the dog bleeds to death internally.
Treatment: Surgery and chemotherapy may help prolong survival times but
cures are virtually never seen, even with surgery done before there are