Lymphoma or lymph node cancer, also known as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and lymphosarcoma, is a common cancer in dogs. Some canine breeds, such as Basset hounds, are more susceptible than others. Lymphoma is responsible for 10 to 20 percent of all cancers in dogs.
Lymphoma is a kind of cancer involving lymphocytes, or the cells of the immune system. When a dog is healthy, his immune system fights against agents such as viruses and bacteria. Lymph nodes are collections of lymph tissue that are found throughout the dog's body. Lymph nodes sieve the lymph, which is a fluid that contains white cells, and which transports viruses and bacteria and other microbes. When a site is infected, the microbial organisms gather in the lymph nodes, which causes tenderness and swelling.
When a basset hound or any dog acquires lymphoma, his lymph nodes become swollen. You will be able to see the swollen glands or feel them in front of his shoulders, behind his knees and under the neck. The nodes can also appear in the abdomen or chest, which you may not be able to see. Veterinarians do not know why certain dogs are more susceptible to lymphomas while other breeds aren't. It could be due to the decreased immune function in certain breeds or it could be a matter of genetics.
Symptoms of lymph node cancer in dogs include an increase in urination and thirst, tiredness, weight loss, vomiting, difficulty breathing and diarrhea. Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the lymphoma, the size of the tumor and how advanced the disease is. Lymph node cancer can occur at any time but it generally strikes older dogs.
Bone Marrow Transplant/Chemo
Bone marrow transplants for dogs are available at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. The survival rate for dogs with lymph node cancer isn't very high, but the option of a bone marrow transplant increases the odds of survival. A dog can undergo chemotherapy, which has always been considered the go-to treatment for this very aggressive form of cancer.
Additional Breeds at Risk
Other dog breeds that are at risk of contracting lymphoma include German shepherds, Airedales, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, bulldogs, golden retrievers, bull mastiffs, boxers and Scottish terriers.