Epitheliotropic lymphoma, also known as mycosis fungoides, a malignant form of skin cancer in dogs, has a poor diagnosis. The average survival time after diagnosis rarely exceeds 10 months. The malignancy normally strikes older dogs between the ages of 9 and 10. Unlike other cancers, there appears to be no specific breed predisposition, according to the Department of Pathology, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California. Normally, epitheliotropic lymphoma affects the skin but it can also rarely affect the mucus membranes or foot pads.
The skin of the dog may exhibit red, scaly patches or area that suffer lack of pigmentation. When the dogs nose is affected with the cancer it will often loose its black pigmentation and begin to show areas of white or pink skin. Areas of the dogs lips or gums often show signs of thickening. The dog may exhibit skin nodules. As the cancer progresses enlarged lymph nodes are often noted. The dog may experience lethargy and lack of appetite.
The veterinarian will evaluate the dog's overall health and appearance. Any suspicious areas will be biopsied by numbing the area with a local anesthetic so a needle biopsy may be performed. The tissue samples from the suspected area will be sent off for diagnosis.
Initially, epitheliotropic lymphoma is slow to progress unlike other cancers but the diagnosis in the early stages is difficult. The cancer is easily confused with the symptoms of an allergic reaction, endocrine disorders, seborrheic diseases and autoimmune disorders, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Surgery and Topical Treatment
Surgery on the areas of infections is often performed when diagnosis is early in the course of the cancer. The malignant area will be surgically removed. Topical application of methchlorethamine (nitrogen mustard) is also prescribed if the area of involvement is not large. Limited time remission has also been achieved using retinoids.
Chemotherapy and Radiation
Chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide, adriamycin, doxorubicin, vincristine or chlorambucil have gained limited stretches of remission for infected dogs. Radiation is often utilised for areas that suffer only one or two lesions, according to the Dermatology Clinics for Animals of Las Vegas.