Cutaneous t-cell lymphoma in dogs

Cutaneous t-cell lymphoma, known as extranodal lymphoma, can affect a dog's lungs, skin, mouth, kidneys, central nervous system and eyes. Scaley lesions or nodules form on the skin, and other symptoms include blindness, seizures, difficulty breathing and renal failure. Survival after diagnosis is usually less then 6 months even with treatment, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.


A veterinarian will evaluate the dog's symptoms and overall health. Once utaneous t-cell lymphoma is suspected further testing will be required to confirm. A needle biopsy often is preformed on a location of abnormal cells. Blood work also will be done. X rays and ultera sounds often are ordered to see the dog's major organs and evaluate possible spread.


Lymphomas carcinomas account for 7 to 24 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in dogs, according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation. Certain breeds seem to have a genetic predisposition to lymphomas. They are often seen in boxers, schnauzers, airedales, bull dogs, airedales and Scottish terriers. Middle-aged dogs are the most widely affected.

External Symptoms

External symptoms often manifest in cutaneous lymphoma. Owners should watch for exfoliative dermatitis, papules, ulcers, scales, itching or unusual skin conditions since the disease often manifests itself in the dog's external skin first.

Treatment Options

If the skin is involved with only solitary lesions, surgery may be performed to remove the malignant site. Radiation therapy is also widely used to treat only certain areas of carcinoma occurring on the skin. Mechlorethamine (Mustargen) topical ointment is also widely prescribed for application on the malignant skin region. Topical retinoids have also shown promise in the treatment of T cell lymphoma, according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation.


Dogs with external t-cell lymphomas treated with the retinoid, Isotretinoin, have survived for up to 13 months. Treatment using chemotherapy drugs for t-cell lymphoma with internal spread to major organs sustained life for only 250 to 399 days when a combination of vincristine, prednisone, cyclophosphamide, cytosine and arabinoside were used. Despite, even the most extensive use of chemotherapy drugs and radiation the prognosis remains dismal.

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About the Author

Based in Oregon, Kimberly Sharpe has been a writer since 2006. She writes for numerous online publications. Her writing has a strong focus on home improvement, gardening, parenting, pets and travel. She has traveled extensively to such places as India and Sri Lanka to widen and enhance her writing and knowledge base.