The word chemotherapy conjures up images of unpleasant toxicity but in reality, chemotherapy just refers to the use of medications, as opposed to radiation or surgery, to treat cancer. Unpleasant side effects are actually unusual for pets, not just from species differences but because disease-free duration goals are different when normal lifespans are shorter. Protocols can involve combinations of different medications. (Acronyms for these drugs form the name of the protocol such as COP, CHOP, or MOPP. Protocols can also be single agent, meaning only one drug is used. In general, the chance of achieving remission is good no matter which protocol is used, but the duration of remission will depend on the type of lymphoma and which protocol is selected. There is some controversy as to whether chemotherapy protocols should be used indefinitely or for a finite period of time.
Eventually, it can be expected that remission will be lost and a rescue protocol will be needed to achieve a second remission. The second remission is generally more difficult to achieve and will not last as long as the first remission. The medications selected for rescue will need to be different from those used in the original protocol because the tumor can be assumed to be resistant to the drugs it has already been exposed to.
The following list includes medications that are commonly used to treat lymphoma in dogs and cats. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist will likely be suggesting a protocol involving one or more of these. Use the links below to obtain more information.
Adriamycin / Doxorubicin
Prednisone / Prednisolone
Rabacfosadine (conditionally approved for treatment)
Verdinexor (Laverdia-CA1) (conditionally approved for treatment)