Canine lymphoma is a common cancer of the white blood cells [lymphocytes]. It typically presents as swelling of the lymph nodes [glands]. An owner will often first notice a swelling in the throat or groin. Both external and internal lymph glands are affected and tend to enlarge very quickly. The lymphoma may metastatise to other parts of the body. Less commonly lymphoma affects isolated organs of the body such as the spleen, liver, intestines or skin.

There are many different types of lymphoma which are classified by the type of lymphocytes affected. The two main groups are B and T cell lymphoma. The lymphoma type will determine the prognosis and most suitable chemotherapy protocol.
Without treatment the disease rapidly progresses with an average survival time of two months.
With treatment survival times can be increased to six to twelve months. Longer periods of remission have been achieved but are rare.

The incidence of cancers generally in our dogs appears to be increasing. However this may only be a reflection of better welfare and medicine increasing the life span of canine friends and hence the development of cancer in later life. In addition advances in medicine, particularly imaging techniques, means previous cases that would not have been detected are now diagnosed.

Regarding the cause of cancer there is still much to learn. It is generally thought to have a multifactorial aetiology but we do know that some types of cancer show a hereditary component. Lymphoma is one such cancer. Whilst it can occur spontaneously it also shows a genetic predisposition in certain dog breeds. Breeds affected include Retrievers, Rottweilers, Springer Spaniels, Boxers, Mastiffs and bull breeds. There are different subtypes of lymphoma within the different breeds.

The incidence of lymphoma in Italian Spinone appears to be increasing. There have been reports of more than one family member being affected. The ISCGB health committee with the help of Cambridge University are intending to correlate data to see if there is a possibility of a predisposition to lymphoma developing in our breed.

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