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King: Lymphoma And Chemotherapy

Education > Patient Stories 20th July 2019

Last November, King was diagnosed with canine lymphoma, a cancer of white blood cells called the lymphocytes. Affected dogs are typically middle-aged and older. The cancer cells invade and destroy normal tissues, most commonly the lymph nodes, and cause the nodes to swell and harden. As the disease progresses, internal organs such as the liver, spleen and bone marrow become affected.

Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs. When King was examined by Dr Jeenise Ng, his lymph nodes were enlarged. Dogs with lymphoma often present with lumps or swellings on the neck, armpit and groin areas. Other signs of lymphoma include appetite loss, weight loss and fatigue.

King posing with his surgeon Dr Dennis Choi before excisional biopsy of the enlarged submandibular lymph node. Biopsy and other diagnostic tests (such as complete blood count, platelet count, biochemical profile, urinalysis, ultrasound) allow vets to accurately diagnose lymphoma and stage the disease to determine how far the cancer has spread.

Chemotherapy is a treatment choice to shrink enlarged lymph nodes and aim for complete remission. Most dogs tolerate chemotherapy well. With regular monitoring and checkups, optimal nutrition, supplements and positive emotional support, King responded well to treatment.

The goal of chemotherapy is to kill and slow the growth of cancer cells, produce minimal negative effects on normal cells, improve quality of life and aim for remission.

Most chemotherapy drugs are given by intravenous (IV) injection. A few are given by mouth as a tablet or capsule. Doses of drugs and treatment schedules are carefully calculated to minimise any discomfort to the patient. Common side effects include appetite loss, decreased energy level, mild vomiting or diarrhoea over a few days. If serious side effects do occur, the medical team will review and adjust the treatment protocol.

For dogs with chemotherapy resistant lymphoma, rescue protocols are available where different drugs or different combinations of drugs are given together with proactive supportive care to induce remission and maintain a good quality of life.

If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, work closely with your vets to decide on a treatment plan that works best for your pet and your family. When chemotherapy is not an option, whether for emotional, time or financial reasons, discuss other treatment plans which can help your pet feel better and maintain a good quality of life.


Over the weeks of chemotherapy treatment, King's enlarged lymph nodes became smaller. His appetite and energy returned and he put on the weight he lost. 8 months after diagnosis of canine lymphoma, we are happy to declare that King is doing well with CT scan and blood work confirming he is in remission. On 20 July 2019, our hero King celebrated his 9th birthday with us!