Bone marrow cancer, also known as myeloma, occurs when plasma cells mutate and become malignant. It's an aggressive form of cancer that leads to the destruction of the bone and increased levels of protein in the blood, which can cause kidney damage. Bone marrow cancer cells can also metastasise to surrounding tissue and organs. The cause of this type of cancer is not yet understood and any dog can develop the condition, but it's more common in older dogs and purebred dogs. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for bone marrow cancer in dogs:
Symptoms of bone marrow cancer can vary depending on what bones are affected, but common symptoms include lethargy, fever, lameness and laboured breathing. Bone pain is also common, and this may present as your dog being irritable or unwilling to engage in play or be stroked. Some dogs will also develop consistent, increased thirst, which is indicative of poor kidney function. Additionally, pale gums and bleeding from the mucous membranes is observed in some dogs.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will diagnose bone cancer by taking details of your dog's symptoms and conducting a thorough exam. Blood and urine samples will be taken to check organ function and detect raised inflammatory markers, which would indicate your dog's immune response has been triggered by a pathogen. Diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or CT scan, is often utilised to check for the presence of bone lesions and confirm the severity and exact location of cancerous cells.
Treatment for bone cancer often involves the use of drugs called biologics, which alter your dog's immune response and helps their immune system destroy the cancer cells. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can also be used to kill cancer cells, and these treatment options can be particularly effective when diagnostic imaging has shown the cancer has metastasised. If your dog's kidneys have been affected, the will require large volumes of intravenous fluids to support kidney function and flush out toxins. If these treatments have not been successful, your dog may be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant, but this option can only be successful if the cancerous cells have not spread to the surrounding tissue.
If your dog has any symptoms associated with bone marrow cancer, or if you have any concerns about their bone health, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary suffering.
For more information, reach out to a vet.