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The following is a simple case report detailing a useful treatment.


Spring Chiron 2011          Jenny White

Treatment of Canine Epitheliotropic Lymphoma with Safflower Oil   A seven year old male desexed Labrador, “Bruno” presented on 21/1/11with what  looked like “rain scald” on his trunk i.e. superficial thick crusts that left areas of  alopecia when lifted off. I also noted a subcutaneous nodule in the right axilla  which cytologically appeared to be lymphatic tissue. 

 â€œBruno” has a history of occasional malassezia otitis, recurrent diarrhoea when  under stress and also one bout of pancreatitis. He had been doing well on Hills i/d which the attending vet prescribed when he had pancreatitis while on holiday in April 2010. His owners are “conventional” clients so he was given a 14 day course of Cephalexin 600mg bid. By 22/2/11 the crusts had underlying nodules and there was a mild peripheral lymphadenopathy and mild pruritus. A punch biopsy of a nodule was taken under local anaesthesia and the diagnosis was epitheliotropic lymphoma (mycosis fungoides). It was suggested that serum calcium, CBC and serum globulins might be of interest but these were within normal limits. I phoned a specialist oncologist and they said that Lomustine was the treatment of choice but then added that most dogs respond poorly and are dead within a year.

The owner didn’t want chemotherapy but did want palliation so I googled “canine mycosis fungoides” and found references to remissions being achieved using safflower oil at 3ml/kg on 3 consecutive days a week. The owners were more than happy to try such a simple treatment and “Bruno” in typical Labrador fashion happily guzzled 96 mls of safflower on his meal of z/d. I told the client  that high protein, low carbohydrate diets were beneficial in cancer so they decreased the amount of z/d and added a 400gm can of tuna daily. From their experience this was a food least likely to bring on diarrhoea and it was also his favourite. I also coaxed them to add some vegetables but this is largely carrot and cucumber. His owners figured that if he’s on borrowed time he might as well enjoy it! I don’t know what brand of oil they buy, but I told them to get it from a health food shop and to get one high in linoleic acid.  The cases that were documented at UCLA in the 90’s were given oil that was 87% safflower. 

He was washed in a proprietary chlorhexidine shampoo .

By 13/5/11, less than 4 months, all that remained was a few 5 cent sized areas of alopecia and all lymph nodes were palpably normal. He has not gained weight and the dreaded pancreatitis has not recurred. His skin and coat are perfect and his owners have reduced the dose of safflower to 30mls daily on 3 consecutive days a week. In his favour, perhaps, was the early intervention and the fact that these lymphoid cells had a low mitotic index. Some of these cases can start out looking seborrheic and fairly innocuous and may go undiagnosed for many months.



1.Ogilvie GK, Fettman MJ, Mallinckrodt CH, Walton JA, Hansen RA, Davenport DJ,

Gross KL, Richardson KL, Rogers Q, Hand MS

Cancer Lett 1992 May 30;64(1):17‐22   Linoleate produces remission in canine mycosis fungoides.

Iwamoto KS, Bennett LR, Norman A, Villalobos AE, Hutson CA

Department of Radiological Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.

2. The Use of Safflower Oil for the Treatment of Mycosis Fungoides in Two Dogs.

 Peterson, A., Wood, S., and Rosser, E. Dept of Small Animal Clinical Sciences,

D208 Veterinary Medical Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.