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Histologic Subtypes and Clinical Outcomes in Canine B-Cell Lymphoma

Davis Seelig, DVM, PhD, DACVP, University of Minnesota


|April/May 2021

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In the literature

Wolf-Ringwall A, Lopez L, Elmslie R, et al. Prospective evaluation of flow cytometry characteristics, histopathologic diagnosis and clinical outcome in dogs with naive B-cell lymphoma treated with a 19-week CHOP protocol. Vet Comp Oncol. 2020;18(3):342-352.


Canine B-cell lymphoma consists of multiple histologically and biologically distinct subtypes, but it is often treated as a single disease with doxorubicin-based, multiagent chemotherapy protocols. Although retrospective studies have reported the prognostic importance of subtype,1,2 clinical importance has not been directly studied in standardized prospective clinical trials.

Identification of subtypes traditionally requires lymph node removal, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and review by a veterinary pathologist trained in hematopathology. However, because of the time, invasiveness, and cost associated with this approach, a diagnosis of canine lymphoma is more routinely made using fine-needle aspiration and cytology. Because cytology can provide both prognostic and subtyping information, it is increasingly combined with flow cytometry, which can provide rapid and clinically relevant diagnostic and prognostic information for many different subtypes of canine lymphoma.

This study sought to examine the influence of subtype on outcome in dogs with B-cell lymphoma treated with a standardized chemotherapeutic protocol (n = 64), as well as the use of flow cytometry to identify histologic subtype. Flow cytometry was able to diagnose 100% of B-cell lymphoma cases but was unable to identify clear phenotyping differences between the different B-cell lymphoma subtypes.

This study also confirmed that nodal B-cell lymphoma in dogs is a clinically heterogenous disease and there are infrequent subtypes (eg, marginal zone lymphoma) with inferior objective response rates and decreased median survival times as compared with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; these rates were comparable with some forms of T-cell lymphoma.


Key pearls to put into practice:


Canine lymphoma comprises a broad group of individual diseases, including clinically slow subtypes with prolonged survival times (>600 days) that do not require systemic chemotherapy. Other subtypes are aggressive, with survival times <200 days.


A multimodal approach is important for diagnosing canine lymphoma. Flow cytometry can provide significant prognostic information that may help guide diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.


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