What Can be Done About Canine Lymphoma?
This is a common cancer in American dogs, and fortunately, it is very treatable. About 50% of dogs with lymphoma can be put into remission. Most lymphomas respond very well to modern therapy, by using a combination of chemotherapy (sometimes radiation, although not very often) and immunomodulation therapy such as K-9 Immunity™ or some equivalent immune system enhancers. In dogs which are otherwise healthy this type of cancer has one of the highest remission rates of any canine cancer.
Lets look at what canine lymphoma is and the different treatment options available for dog cancer lumps today.
What is Lymphoma?
The lymph system is the body’s “other” circulatory system, circulating white blood cells and most importantly, lymphocytes. These are specialized cells involved in immune function found throughout the body. In normal healthy dogs, these cells are manufactured in the bone marrow, go through a life span of around 30 days, and then die off and are re-absorbed into the body or eliminated through the waste channels. In Lymphoma, the regulation of production is lost and these cells proliferate in large number, or they lose their programed life cycle and continue to live on, overwhelming the other blood cells. High white blood cell count and swollen lymph glands are the characteristic signs of this disease, followed by lethargy, loss of appetite and leading eventually to death unless treated.
Canine Lymphoma is usually treated with a special chemotherapy called the Madison Wisconsin Protocol
Lymphoma is a very serious and all-to-common disease in dogs. Some breeds are more prone to this type of cancer than others. Golden Retreivers seem to be especially susceptable to this type of canine cancer. Cancer is first and foremost an immune dysfunction disease. Lymphoma form when the body fails to recognize the altered lymph cells as invaders. These are the cells that have multiplied improperly. In the last few years specialized compounds have become available for use in cancer patients to try and correct this error. These are called immune modulators. These immune modulator compounds often trigger the patient’s “immune recognition response” allowing the body to recognize and destroy the aberrant cells. When this recognition response is triggered, the body re-learns how to deal with the tumor cells as it would with any other wound, and destroys those aberrant cells, producing healthy scar tissue in their place. These immune modulators are different than the class of drugs called Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs are toxic, and work by destroying the cancer cells directly. Chemotherapy drugs are very useful in combating canine lymphoma cancer, in that they reduce the number of cancer cells present, but they do not address the underlying cause that allowed the cancer in the first place. Immune modulator compounds on the other hand are not toxic. They are a class of compounds called heteropolysaccharides, which are naturally occurring in our foods and are required in all mammals for triggering normal immune function. For some reason, in cancer patients large amounts of these immune modulators are required to trigger that normal rejection response, which in turn kills off the cancer cells.
Canine Lymphoma Responds Very Well to Combination Therapy Using Chemotherapy and Immune Modulators
Chemotherapy is the first line treatment for dog lymphoma. This is a type of cancer that usually effects young to middle aged dogs that are usually healthy in other respects. This means they are often good candidates for aggressive chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is usually a good option, depending on how extensivethe cancer, whether it has spread and whether any major organs are involved. Sometimes the effected lymph glands are surgically removed, but this is of questionable value. After surgery, some type of chemotherapy drug is usually recommended to clean up any remaining cancer cell not removed by the surgery. Chemotherapy and surgery are both effective in removing the bulk of the tumors, but should always be seen as only one arm of a multi-pronged approach. This is because we all know that surgery and chemotherapy do not cure cancer. The underlying cause of the cancer is still there, which is the immune dysfunction that allowed the tumor to form in the first place. Chemo and surgery do not deal with this underlying immune dysfunction. However, when chemo and surgery are used along with immune modulation therapy (such as K-9 Immunity™, and immune proteins, such as K9 Transfer Factor™), the chances of a dog overcoming lymphoma and surviving a normal life span are excellent. Ultimately, it is only the patient’s own immune system which can overcome the cancer. Until and unless the immune recognition response is triggered, the patient cannot overcome the cancer. That is why many Vets will tell you that the dog’s life can only be extended, but that the cancer is still present. While this was certainly true in the past, modern research into immune modulation therapy as an adjunct to conventional therapy has proven this to be no longer true. Cancer can be cured. K-9 Immunity™ is a veterinary grade formula specifically intended for use in dogs fighting cancer, to trigger the proper immune response.
Symptoms of Canine Lymphoma
The symptoms of lymphoma usually commonly mimic the symptoms of many other diseases or disorders. Most owners of dogs with multicentric or disseminated lymphoma first find pronounced enlargement of the lymph nodes on the underside of their dog’s neck, beneath and slightly behind the chin. These are the submandibular lymph nodes (the mandible is the lower jaw bone). Affected dogs normally do not seem painful when their submandibular lymph nodes are palpated and show no other unusual symptoms.
Other signs that owners may notice include one or more of the following:
Multicentric lymphoma – usually shows up first as painless but enlarged peripheral lymph nodes. Owners may see or feel these in areas under the jaw, in the armpits, in the groin area or behind the knees. Enlargement of the liver and/or spleen can also occur, causing the abdomen to distend. This is the most common form of lymphoid cancer in dogs.
Gastrointestinal (alimentary) lymphoma – is a malignant form of cancer that can show up anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum). Clinical signs of gastrointestinal lymphoma include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, depression, diarrhea and melena. Low serum albumin levels and elevated blood calcium levels commonly accompany alimentary lymphoma, although these can only be detected by veterinary evaluation of blood samples. This is the second most frequent form of lymphoma in dogs.
Mediastinal lymphoma – where the cancer is localized to tissues in the chest cavity – can cause fluid to build up around the lungs. This can lead to coughing and labored breathing (dyspnea), mimicking the signs of congestive heart failure.
Lymphoma of the skin (cutaneous lymphoma) – is uncommon in dogs. When it does occur, it usually shows up with hair loss (alopecia) and visible bumps on the skin. It can also be itchy (pruritic) and vary widely in appearance, ranging from a single lump to large areas of bruised, ulcerated and/or hairless skin.
Lymphoma of the central nervous system (CNS) – is very uncommon in dogs. When lymphoma is localized in the CNS, dogs typically present with neurological signs such as circling, seizures, behavior changes and incoordination.
Can My Dog Be Cured of Lymphoma?
This is really the only question that matters. How well any dog will respond to therapy is difficult to generalize. Treatment success depends on many factors, such as the dog’s age, his or her diet, their medical history, where the cancer is located and how extensive it is and what major systems are involved. Generally speaking, the earlier lymphoma is diagnosed, the better the outcome will be. Since most lymphoma occurs in younger dogs, when it is diagnosed early, immune modulation usually assures that the dog has the greatest possible chance of remission, and the best chance that the cancer does not recur.
Diet is of Vital Importance!
Cancer is the leading cause of death in American dogs. It is thought by many experts that diet is the main reason for this. We feed our dogs a diet that is based mostly around grain, even though none of the dog family feeds on grains in the wild. Not the wolves, or coyotes, or dingoes, or hyenas, none of them. Dogs have not evolved the necessary enzymes to digest or utilize grain in their diet. They are primarily carnivores. When you feed a carnivore a diet based on grain, they will develop various immune dysfunctions, including cancer. If it is the diet that causes cancer in the first place, it seems pretty obvious that diet is an important part in treating a dog with cancer. In fact, diet is one of the most important factors in a successful treatment of mast cell tumors! To give the dog the best possible chance of overcoming this challenge, the proper nutrients must be fed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because a dog food is expensive, or because it is recommended by the vet or has a fancy name that it is necessarily the best food for your cancer patient. There are some good recommendations for dog cancer diets found on the Dog Cancer Diet page.
For complementary treatment of tumour diseases, general strengthening of the immune system and enhancement of fitness.
An immune-modulator is something that helps regulate the immune system. K-9 Immunity™ was first developed for guide dogs for the blind being treated for cancer, and is now available to clinics, veterinarians and direct to the public. K-9 Immunity™ has been used in over 10,000 dogs with cancer, with outstanding success. Talk to your vet to see if immune supplementation may help your pet, or you can order direct and get started today! K-9 Immunity™ contains a class of immune-modulator compounds called hetero-polysaccharides, including PSK, PSP and Lentinan, which are the three most widely used anticancer compounds in the world today. This formula also contains nearly 200 other closely related polysaccharide which trigger other aspects of immune function. These compounds are sometimes referred to as glyconutrients, and are required for correct immune function in all mammals. K-9 Immunity™ is an all-natural, non-toxic daily supplement made from 100% USDA Certified Organic materials.