Although, in most cases, conventional veterinary oncology focuses on remission from the disease (as opposed to total cure), and tries to figure out how to make that remission last as long as possible, there is one type of conventional Canine Lymphoma treatment that shows some potential as a cure – and that is Bone Marrow Transplant Therapy.
What You Need to Know About Bone Marrow Transplant Therapy
Bone Marrow Transplant Therapy is the only treatment we know of currently, both in human cancer and in veterinary medicine, that has a significant chance of curing Canine Lymphoma.
There are a handful of places around the country that do canine Bone Marrow transplants, but the success rate is still not great – it’s currently only about a 30% chance of cure for dogs – and it’s extremely expensive, and there’s a high risk of patient death as a result of the treatment itself.
(Note: Oregon State University is currently (as of August, 2013) conducting a clinical trial for dogs with lymphoma and bone marrow transplants. The trial is heavily subsidized by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant.
For those reasons Bone Marrow Transplant, in its current form, is not a popular option for most Canine Lymphoma dogs
Note: One of the biggest issues and problems for Bone Marrow transplants for dogs – as compared to Bone Marrow transplants for humans – is that humans have access to bone marrow banks, or you can get a good matched donor from a family member – but it’s much harder to find a bone marrow matched donor for a dog.
Bone Marrow Transplant Therapy – Using “Autologous” Grafts
For that reason, current researchers work using “Autologous” Grafts, where the vet harvests some of the Canine Lymphoma patient’s own bone marrow, then undertakes a procedure that attempts to screen out all of the cancer cells, then replaces the good Bone Marrow cells back into the patient. While this effectively eliminates the risk of the patient rejecting the transplanted bone marrow cells, these screened bone marrow cells are not as effective at curing the disease compared to finding a matched donor. This is the primary reason why current bone marrow transplant treatments for dogs are significantly less effective than similar bone marrow transplant treatments for humans.
Conclusion: If you can afford the cost, and find a clinic in your area that provides these services, Bone Marrow Transplant Therapy probably provides the best opportunity for long term health (and even possibly cure) for dogs with Canine Lymphoma, but it comes a great price (financially), poses some potentially significant risks (including possible death), and has only a limited chance of success.