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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 causes vomiting and diarrhea.

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 widespread.

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 evaluation.

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 detectable metastases.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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