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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18318
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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I have a male pedigree bullmastiff who will be 10 years old

Resolved Question:

I have a male pedigree bullmastiff who will be 10 years old in September this year. He has been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer by blood test. So far it appears just in the lymph gland.
They want to do a biopsy and remove the lymph node and do chemotherapy.
If it is just localised to lymph node why can radiotherapy not be done like in humans. They said they have no idea how he will react on the chemo or how much longer he will survive.
As he has no signs or symptoms I was thinking of leaving it as I am concerned that the moment they take a biopsy by GA it will spread and he will deteriate quickly and have poor quality of life. What do tou think?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. In regards ***** ***** question, if this had been any other focal tumor type then radiation therapy would be an option. Since lymphoma is a cancer that often affects multiple sites on the body and can involve the blood, we find chemotherapy much more effective for dogs. Radiation could be used in theory but it runs the risk of leading us to "putting out fires" if there is any spread. And as we always aim for the most effective and least invasive treatment approach with cancer in dogs, this wouldn't be ideal. That aside, the vet taking a biopsy is unlikely to cause spread with this tumor type. As well, that biopsy is key to knowing what his prognosis is and whether chemo is the answer for him. This is because there are a few different types of lymphoma (those made of B or T lymphocytes and those that are composed of immature type cancer cells as opposed to mature ones). If he has a B cell lymphoma made of mature cells (also referred to as "small cell" lymphoma), he will be a better candidate for chemo working then a T-cell lymphoma with immature blastic cells (or "large cell" lymphoma). So, if we find he has that worst one, then you could choose to just monitor or use steroids for the weeks to months long prognosis. Otherwise, chemo would be worth at least trying for him. If he tolerates having it, it could give us a few more months or even years with him.And I would note again that our chemo approach isn't like human medicine. Since our patients don't understand feeling poorly on high doses of chemo is temporary, we don't use those high doses that people receive. Instead, we use lower dose to get our patients into remission without compromising their quality of life.Overall, radiation isn't ideal for this cancer type in the dog. Otherwise, until we have that biopsy back, we won't know if your lad is a good candidate for chemo. Once we have that answer, we will know if this is a situation where we could and should treat because we have a good chance of success or one where we wouldn't do so and just allow him what time he has left. Please take care,Dr. B.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I am just not sure what to do. He is an older dog and has slowed down anyway and I am concerned with his recovery from GA for the biopsy. I will do the biopsy and see which type of cells he has and decide. I know this is not relevant it's just I feel so guilty as we were both battered by my ex husband for a few years until I had the guts to leave him. I just do not want Mutley to suffer any more than he has ro as he did not have a great start in life because I was not strong enough.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome,That is completely understandable, as it is a difficult decision to make. Though as long as his pre-anaesthetic blood work is normal, we'd not be particularly worried about his recovery from the GA. But at the end of the day, we do need to do what we think is best for him. If he is a stressy dog that hates going to the vet, then it may be best to just use steroids (since they have cytotoxic effect against lymphoma and can buy us a bit more time) until it is time to let him go. But if he is an amenable dog and we find that biopsy is a less aggressive form of lymphoma, then chemo could be an option to give him more time.Still no matter which you decide, as long as you are both safe and together, I am sure Mutley is happy to take life come what may and enjoy the time he has with you for as long as he can do so.Please take care,Dr. B.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. I will do the biopsy and take it from there. I understand a bit more now. I deal with cancer in humans and thought it was the same so at least I understand that now. I am going back to the vet on Wednesday and will discuss the next course of action. Thank you for your help and advice a second opinion is always good. I never thought this would ever happen, we take too much for granted. Amanda
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome, Amanda.I agree that we do until moments like this remind us how fragile and fleeting life can be. I think its just human nature and life sweeping us along that leads us to take things for granted.Anyway, oncology is similar between the species but there are some notable differences. In any case, that sounds like a good course of action and hopefully this will be a low grade B cell/small cell lymphoma for Mutley and we can be undertaken as you see fit.Best wishes to you both,Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18318
Experience: General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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