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Published: Mar 22, 2012

If you have an older dog or cat, it is more than likely that you will start to feel lumps and bumps on its body that were not there before. While benign fatty tumors are common, other lumps may indicate lymphoma in your dog or cat, one of the most common types of cancers.

Lymphoma is a cancer derived from white blood cells called lymphocytes, according to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Lymphoma may be related to infections such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) in cats.  In dogs, the cause of this cancer is less clear, but veterinarians believe that viruses, bacteria, chemical exposure and genetics may all play a role.

Lymphoma can affect many different body systems and the most common clinical signs of lymphoma in dogs are firm, enlarged lymph nodes. On your dog, lymph nodes are located in the neck area, in the front creases of each front leg, the groin and at the back of the knee.  Cats more often experience lymphoma in the internal organs and will often be lethargic or experience weight loss, diarrhea, increased urination or fever, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Since lymphoma is a cancer of the blood cells and is present in the lymph nodes, removing a single lump or lymph node will not usually eliminate this cancer.  Most often chemotherapy is the preferred treatment to prolong the life of a pet with lymphoma.

If your vet suspects lymphoma in your pet they will often recommend bloodwork, x-rays and samples of the affected areas to make a diagnosis and determine the best treatment plan.