Charlie's journey with Southfields

February 7, 2022

Charlie presented to Southfields with a history of a progressive mass affecting a large proportion of his tongue, which was painful and causing him to have some drooling and not be his happy self.

This has been biopsied by his vet as epitheliotropic lymphoma – a type of white blood cell cancer that in rare cases affects the surfaces of the body – such as the skin, lips and oral cavity. Most dogs with this disease have generalised involvement of the skin, but some pets have it just affecting one solitary site and it can be surgically removed. Unfortunately for Charlie, his tumour affected the bulk of his tongue surface and he also had other satellites of tumour in other areas of his mouth.

Radiotherapy can be very effective in cases of lymphoma as these cancer cells tend to die very quickly and at lower doses than other cancers. Unfortunately, most dogs cannot have it for this disease as their disease is too widespread. In Charlie’s case, he needed his whole oral cavity treated due to the multiple areas affected. This is not a light undertaking as the mouth can become very sore with this treatment when high doses are given to try and get the best possible outcome. Chemotherapy can be used and is usually successful initially, but in this type of lymphoma, the results are often disappointingly short.

Charlie’s owners were very committed, and he received 15-session of radiotherapy over 3 weeks. His protocol had to be individually designed by James Elliott, who is a specialist in both medical and radiation oncology. The total dose and dose per treatment needed to be considered very carefully, due to the wide area being treated. Charlie coped well with treatment and with appropriate pain relief and some temporary antibiotics, he got through his treatment course and anticipated side effects like a trooper. His owner looked after him so well, and he recovered from his treatment a short while afterwards.

He has had an excellent response to treatment and is now back to his old self. His first check-up showed a great resolution of the tumours and 3 months later he is doing just fine. We hope it continues for a very long time!