Modifying a Dog's Chemotherapy Protocol

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I wonder what current chemotherapy protocol information is available for canine lymphoma. My dog was diagnosed in March 1999 and put on a chemotherapy protocol. Are there modifications, which can be made to her protocol to account for both her tolerance of the drug and my financial abilities?  
Thank you so much for taking the time to help us make informed and caring decisions.

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

There are numerous variations on several basic protocols used to treat canine lymphoma. Each has particular advantages and disadvantages. Several basic chemotherapy drugs are used in different combinations, sequences, and dosages. As a very general rule of thumb, the oncologist is trying to balance cancer cell killing against normal tissue side effects. The goal is to give the highest dosages of the most effective drugs while keeping the side effects "tolerable". It should be noted that what is considered tolerable will vary from dog to dog, owner to owner, and oncologist to oncologist. Each oncologist has protocol(s) with which they are the most comfortable. They know how to modify the protocols based on each dog's particular responses to the drugs. There are often ways to modify the protocols to account for financial limitations and limits to the number of veterinary visits that both owner and dog can tolerate.

So, while your questions are good ones, there are no simple answers. You should discuss all these questions with your veterinary oncologist who is familiar with your dog's particular medical history and response to treatment. If you have not seen a veterinary oncology specialist, you might consider a consultation with one.