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Lymphoma

A form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system and affects the white blood cells, lymphoma can affect any dog or cat.

What is lymphoma?


Lymphoma is a common cancer affecting dogs and cats. It affects the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. The cancer grows in various parts of the body including the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, thymus, eyes, nervous system and skin. 

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Lymphoma may fall under the following categories, depending on the location it arises. These are;

  1. Multicentric, which means it is in multiple locations in the body.  
  2. Alimentary, meaning it arose within the gastrointestinal system. 
  3. Mediastinal, meaning within the chest 
  4. Extranodal, meaning that it affects any organ or tissue in the body. 

Who is affected?

Any breed of dog or cat can be affected by lymphoma.  

According to PetSure data (across 2020 calendar year), a lymphoma is most prevalent in the following breeds of dogs: 

Breed

Prevalence

Bullmastiff

1.48%

Dogue De Bordeaux

0.89%

Bernese Mountain Dog

0.56%

Australian Terrier

0.55%

American Bulldog 

0.43%

Bull Terrier

0.42%

Bull Arab

0.42%

Dobermann

0.41%

Rottweiler 

0.40%

Beagle

0.40%

According to PetSure data, Lymphoma is most prevalent in the following breeds of cats:

Breed

Prevalence

Birman

0.43%

Maine Coon

0.38%

Devon Rex

0.36%

Russian Blue

0.30%

Siamese

0.30%

Pixie-Bob

0.27%

British Shorthair

0.21%

Domestic Shorthair

0.20%

Bengal

0.19%

Tonkinese

0.16%

Prevalence = Total number of unique claiming pets / total number of insured pets across 12-month period. Excludes breeds with less than 500 active pet insurance policies.

Signs of lymphoma

The signs of lymphoma can vary depending on the location of the cancer. 

In multicentric lymphoma, an initial sign is that the lymph nodes become enlarged. As the cancer progresses, other signs of illness occur. 

In mediastinal lymphoma, signs of breathing issues may occur as fluid builds up in the chest. In the alimentary form, vomiting, diarrhoea and weight loss are more likely to occur. 

In the extranodal form, the symptoms are dependent on which part of the body is affected. This means that signs can be wide and varied. 

If you notice that your dog or cat seems unwell, prompt evaluation with your veterinarian is recommended. 

Diagnosing Lymphoma

Lymphoma in dogs and cats may be diagnosed by taking some of the cells from an affected area and studying it. This may be done with a fine needle aspirate or a biopsy. Special tests including Immunocytochemistry, Immunohistochemistry, Flow Cytometry or lymphoma PCR or (PCR) may be recommended for further evaluation. Tests to stage the lymphoma may also be recommended.

Understanding the type and stage of lymphoma helps the vet devise the best management plan, as well as provide a better understanding of the prognosis. 

Management of lymphoma 

Treatment will depend on the type and aggressiveness of the lymphoma. 

Your vet may recommend chemotherapy, surgery, radiation or other treatments, including bone marrow transplants in some instances. 

Referral to a veterinary oncology specialist may be recommended in the management of lymphoma. 

How much does it cost to treat?

According to PetSure claims data in the 2020 calendar year, the average, single treatment cost relating to Lymphoma was $502 with the highest, single treatment cost being $14,885.

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

References

  1. Nelson, R & Couto, 2003, Small animal internal medicine, 3rd edition, Mosby, USA. 

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Noah
Noah
Bei Bei
Bei Bei
Meeka
Meeka