Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My 8-year-old cocker spaniel was diagnosed with Epitheliotropic Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in February of this year after a biopsy of a small lump on his lip. We declined chemotherapy after the vet advised that few dogs survived [this condition] and warned that he may only live for around 3 months. Eight months later, and he is healthy and happy with no obvious problems, we are very pleased to say. On a visit to the vet in the summer, they mentioned that his lymph glands were not as enlarged as they would have expected, given the diagnosis in February (i.e. not larger to any degree). Is it possible that the diagnosis was incorrect?
Lili Duda, VMD, Section Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Menu, responds:
For dogs with stage I lymphoma (lymphoma confined to a solitary site of the body), surgical excision can be curative if the lesion was truly a solitary one, with no microscopic spread of the tumor elsewhere in the body. Often, dogs present with a solitary detectable lesion, but then develop either spread to regional lymph nodes or multiple skin nodules over the body. The fact that no further cancer has been detected over 6 months following removal of the initial lesion is encouraging. However, periodic monitoring both of the lymph nodes that drain this site, as well as the rest of the skin, is warranted.