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Bone Marrow Transplant in Canines

Bone Marrow Transplant in Canines

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My 1 and 1/2 yr old English Springer was diagnosed with lymphoma and lymphoblastic leukemia. He has been receiving weekly chemotherapy with prednisone, vincristine (Oncovin), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), and initial treatment with asparaginase. He has very few cancer cells in his blood now and all but two lymph nodes have receded. Is he eligible for a bone marrow transplant?

Answer

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

There are only a few institutions that have the ability to perform bone marrow transplants for dogs with lymphoma. It is unlikely that this treatment will ever gain widespread usage in the veterinary field, given both the side effects and substantial costs of this therapy, but it is an option in a few selected cases.

The use of and indications for bone marrow transplantation in dogs are very similar to those for humans. Keep in mind that it can sometimes be considerably easier to find a matched donor due to the nature of purebred dog breeding. As an interesting comparison, several veterinary hospitals routinely perform kidney transplants in cats, but not in dogs. Due to their unique immune system, tissue matching and organ rejection in cats are less problematic than in humans.