You may be aware that like people, pets can too develop cancer.
But did you know that some types affect pets more commonly than others? Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancer affecting our canine and feline companions.
Lymphoma is a disease that has personally affected my family and shaped my veterinary practice, as my dog Cardiff overcame Lymphoma twice and had a great quality of life despite having two surgeries and receiving ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Cardiff’s lymphoma led to us being featured in My Friend: Changing the Journey, a documentary about canine cancer created by the Canine Lymphoma Education Awareness and Research (CLEAR) Foundation. Although Cardiff is no longer with us, he didn’t succumb to cancer and his message of overcoming adversity still inspires others to this day.
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a malignant cancer affecting the white blood cells. Cancerous cells are those having abnormal DNA that lack a mechanism to turn off their own division. As a result, cancer cells divide in an out-of-control manner, cause damage at the sites of tumor growth, and can negatively affect other organs systems (digestive, immune, glandular, nervous, etc.).
Cancer can be divided into two subclasses, benign and malignant. Benign cancers are those that are less-likely to metastasize (spread to other body systems) and therefore have a better prognosis for resolution or management, but they still can be locally invasive and cause health concerns. Malignant cancers are more-likely to metastasize and generally have a worse prognosis for resolution or management.
Lymphoma, also known as lymphosarcoma, is a cancer of the lymphocytes, which are one type of white blood cell. White blood cells are immune system cells produced by the bone marrow, spleen, and other organ systems that play a crucial role in protecting the body from invading pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungus, etc.), controlling inflammation, managing stress, and facilitating a variety of other bodily functions.
The lymph nodes, gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small and large intestine, etc.), kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system, skin, bone marrow, and other systems can be affected by lymphoma.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Lymphoma also has a five-tier staging system based on its degree of metastasis and invasiveness, including:
Stage I:Restricted to a single lymph node. Stage II:Regional lymphadenopathy (enlargement of lymph nodes) restricted to one side of diaphragm. The diaphragm is a thin layer of muscle separating the chest and the abdominal cavities. Stage II means lymphoma can be found in the chest cavity or abdominal cavity, but not both. Stage III:Generalized lymphadenopathy (i.e. enlarged lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm) Stage IV:Hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the liver and spleen) with or without lymphadenopathy Stage V:Bone marrow, CNS (Central Nervous System), or involvement of other extranodal (non-lymph node) locations
Thank you for sharing this information about this awful disease.
Mom to Miss Jelly Bean "Beanie" Licorice Pug
Forever in our hearts: Miss Nilla Sassafras Pug August 17, 2002 to April 19, 2018
And my Heart-Dog... Wonka the Dancing Pug, CGC, W-FD, W-TFD.
Februrary 11, 2005 to May 10, 2020. Miss you, sweet boy!