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Genetics of lymphoma for Goldens.

Species: Dog
Breed: golden
Age: Less than 3 mon
Its been a tough week.

This question is looking hopefully many years down the road.

I found out this week Max's father passed away at 4 years old from Lymphoma (way too early).

This has not been present in the father's lines amongst siblings, parents, and grandparents all of whom went onto long lives.

Neither is it present in the mom's lines.


But I know goldens are particularily affected, and it is the fathers genes that make up 50% of Max so I was wondering how this may increase his odds of getting it.

Research has shown there are environmental factors (pesticides, electric fields).

Is there anything I can do or should I just keep a look out when he hits middle age?
Does that fact it showed up in his father at 4 mean anything? If Max gets it at 12 I won't worry too much.


Jay


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ugh. There's one more thing to keep your mind occupied.

This is a tough question to answer. I've been researching for you and looking for information on the heritability of lymphoma in Golden Retrievers. What we do know is that yes, there is a genetic component to lymphoma in Goldens. What we don't know is exactly how heritable it is.

I think we can say that Max has an increased risk as compared to another Golden with no history of Lymphoma in his line. With that being said, we don't know if he is 2% more likely or 20% or 200% more likely. I can't find any studies to give me accurate numbers.

There really isn't much you can do to prevent the condition. It is something I would keep in mind if he is ever not doing well and we can't figure out why. Most dogs with lymphoma present with really large lymph nodes that are obviously large. However, I'll tell you about a case I had years ago. It was a Golden Retriever who was losing weight and just not eating great. Every blood test I did was inconclusive. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. Eventually, on a hunch his lymph nodes were biopsied even though they weren't enlarged. It turned out he was in the early stages of lymphoma. This dog had chemotherapy and did really well.

One good thing to know is that lymphoma is a type of cancer that often can be treated well with chemotherapy.

At this point, if I were Max's owner I would just keep this information in the back of my mind but try not to get worried about it. And, in the future if he is vaguely ill with no medical explanation I would ask the vet to biopsy the lymph nodes.

I wish I had a more concrete answer to your questions.

Dr. Marie.


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Customer reply:

Correct me if Im wrong but the chemo protocol involves a number of of medications and can only extend the life by 8-12 months.

Thanks for your research.

Jay


Customer reply:

2 more things...

- does the fact that it is not present elsewhere in any of the lines weigh into it, or is the most relevant genes the fathers.

- does the fact the father passed at 4 yrs old mean anything or is it just when the cancer became active. Ie. if it hits Max it could be tomorrow or 15 years from now irrespective of when the father became ill.




Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Although we rarely can cure lymphoma, many dogs do go into a 5-12 month remission with chemo and then can often live longer with a second course of chemo if necessary. But, you are right that dogs do not live for years and years with this disease. The treatment can be expensive and can require multiple visits to the vet, but dogs handle it extremely well and don't tend to get ill to the extent that people do with chemotherapies.

I'm not sure that anyone can answer your second set of questions. Any answer here would really be just a guess.



Customer reply:

Thanks. On an up note at pred 5mg q48 Maxs allergies are not all that bad.
Im sure the fatty acids are helping.

Enjoy your weekend.

Jay


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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