Lost in the Fog

Lost in the Fog

UC-Davis veterinarians battle a rare case of lymphoma; racing icon euthanized in mid Sept.
Oct 01, 2006

Lost in the Fog was a racing phenom in 2005, winning 10 of 11 and the Eclipse Award Sprint Championship (sidebar). But his early 2006 lackluster racing history brought him back to racehorse reality — or something else was affecting him and foreshadowing a more serious problem that ultimately claimed his life.

His discomfort the week of Aug. 14 sent out a red flag, and trainer Greg Gilchrist vanned Lost in the Fog an hour-and-a-half east from Golden Gate Fields to University of California-Davis' (UC-Davis) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Mild colic to rare lymphoma

Lost in the Fog: This racing phenom's career was cut short with the diagnosis of lymphoma. University of California-Davis clinicians devised the treatment strategy which extended the stallion's life until Sept. 17 when the decision was made to euthanize.
At first thought to be suffering mild colic, further tests and a biopsy revealed a large cantaloupe-size lymphoma mass on Lost in the Fog's spleen. According to Gary Magdesian, DVM, dipl. ACVIM, dipl. ACVECC, dipl. ACVCP, chief of Equine Critical Care Medicine at UC-Davis, rectal palpation was the initial suspicion about the spleen being enlarged.

An abdominal ultrasonography revealed a large splenic mass and splenomegaly. The next day, the team performed an ultrasound-guided biopsy of the splenic mass, which revealed lymphosarcoma.

By week's end, using abdominal laparoscopy, Larry Galuppo, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, chief of Equine Surgery, found two additional abdominal masses. One — about the size of an egg — was in the ligament that suspends the spleen within the abdomen. The second was a very large mass at the base of Lost in the Fog's spine. Results revealed abdominal lymphosarcoma with splenic involvement, which was determined to be inoperable, terminal cancer.

Unmasking the ultrasound: The image clearly depicts Lost in the Fog's splenic involvement.
"He's been running with this thing inside him in every race he ran this year," Gilchrist says. "It shows you what kind of warrior this horse is. I've never had a horse that comes close to this."

A tumor is operable if it is localized in a structure that can be removed (e.g. ovary, uterus, segment of resectable intestine, spleen, liver lobe, etc). If the tumor has infiltrated tissue, that because of location and/or encasement of major vessels, nerves or non-removal organs (e.g. heart, etc.), it is, for practical purposes, inoperable. As in people, surgery can attempt to reduce the tumor load if suitable adjunct treatments are available (radiation, chemo, etc.).

As in the case of Lost in the Fog, internal masses that are determined to be lymphoma are likely part of the generalized or multicentric form of lymphoma, multiple internal masses," states Fairfield T. Bain, DVM, MBA, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVP, ACVECC of Woodside Equine Clinic, Ashland, VA.

Lymphoma is a disease of middle-aged horses, reported mostly common in the 4- to 10-year-old age group. The cause remains unknown; no viral cause has been found as it has in other animals and some forms of the disease in humans.

The most common signs associated with lymphoma are weight loss, usually associated with intestinal involvement or the effects of cancer on the body's metabolism.