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Half Body Radiation – Another Weapon in the Fight Against Lymphoma in Dogs

May 13, 2014

As an oncologist, one cancer that I find can be the most satisfying to treat in dogs is lymphoma.  Most dogs with lymphoma will go into remission after only a few treatments and they will often stay in remission for months.  During this time, aside from having to come to see the oncologist for treatment, their quality of life is often very good.  Once they get into remission owners often report that they are running, playing or just living their normal life as if they never had cancer.

Unfortunately, almost all of these pets will eventually come out of remission and succumb to their disease.  In the past twenty years there has been little to no improvement in the remission and survival times with chemotherapy alone.

That is one reason why it is exciting to be able to use half body radiation in addition to chemotherapy in dogs.  With this protocol, dogs are first treated with chemotherapy to get them into remission and this is followed by two treatments of half body radiation.  We use a low dose rate, meaning that dogs develop almost no side effects from the treatment.  They can get some changes to their hair coat and some intestinal upset, but otherwise they are typically fine.  Most dogs will then go on to complete a shortened chemotherapy protocol.  Initial results suggest that by combining radiation therapy with chemotherapy in this way dogs are in remission longer and are living longer with lymphoma.

We are excited to be able to offer low-dose-rate half body radiation at the VCC as another option to treat dogs with lymphoma.