Canine Cancer Resources and Hope

For every of the previous six months, I’ve written an article for WDJ concerning the cancers that mostly afflict canine. It’s my honest hope the articles will assist any canine homeowners who discover themselves in a battle for their very own canine’ lives perceive what they’re up in opposition to, find out about therapy protocols and median survival instances, and the place to seek out medical trials for and cutting-edge analysis on the varied cancers. 

Gathering the knowledge for the collection took an enormous period of time and work, nevertheless it’s been a labor of affection – a manner of paying again the numerous devoted, educated veterinary professionals who helped me get via the diseases of my two earlier canine. 

Unfortunately, each of my beloved canine finally succumbed to their illnesses. But we loved many fantastic days collectively whereas we lived with most cancers.


My Border Collie, Daisy, was recognized in 2010 with transitional cell carcinoma, a uncommon type of most cancers, accounting for about 2% of cancers that happen in canine. I threw myself into researching the illness and coverings and was lucky to have a bunch of fantastic veterinary specialists on her crew. 

I used to be petrified previous to Daisy’s first therapy, however her major veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, assured me that extreme reactions have been uncommon and this therapy would offer one of the best alternative for an prolonged life span with good high quality. My belief in her good docs was not misplaced; Daisy lived with nice high quality of life for 2½ years after analysis, present process chemotherapy throughout most of that point (see “Chemotherapy Can Be Kind,” WDJ October 2011), even taking part in with a flying disc after each therapy.

Then, in 2015, my different Border Collie, Duncan, was recognized with nasal carcinoma – one other uncommon type of most cancers in canine, accounting for about 1% of all canine neoplasia. It was inoperable, however radiation remedy supplied one of the best likelihood at decreasing the tumor dimension and offering an extending survival time. 

Even after the expertise with Daisy, radiation remedy frightened me: my 14-year-old canine needed to be totally anesthetized day-after-day for 5 days in a row to obtain a therapeutic dose of radiation to his head. Duncan was a really delicate soul; I fearful about how these all-day experiences would have an effect on him, to not point out the dangers of all that anesthesia. 

To my shock and delight, Duncan enthusiastically embraced the each day highway journeys of two hours every manner and adored his veterinary technician. He fortunately left me within the ready room to go along with her for therapy. I’d await hours in a bookstore, shopping for manner too many books and consuming manner an excessive amount of tea. 

At the top of the day I might decide him up and we’d journey residence. By the time we arrived residence, he had fully recovered and was able to play ball for hours (in his heaven, balls rain from the sky). He felt higher after these radiation therapies than he had within the weeks prior. There is one thing to be mentioned for the pain-relieving properties of radiation remedy. 

We had hoped for 12 months. We obtained an amazing month. Yes, I might do it once more in a heartbeat.


I’ve to confess that the analysis for this collection left me discouraged; 50 years of scientific investigation into most cancers has resulted in solely reasonably improved therapies – choices that, typically, lengthen sufferers’ lives for just some months at typically unimaginable value (bodily, emotional, monetary). 

For perspective, I turned to somebody who has been finding out, researching, and treating canine most cancers for greater than 15 years, Jeffrey Bryan, DVM, PhD, DACVIM Oncology – sure, the identical individual I used to be fortunate to have as my canine’ first vet. Dr. Bryan is not in personal observe, having lengthy since decamped for analysis and academia. He is now a professor of oncology on the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and director for the college’s Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory. When I first met Dr. Bryan, he was working in a veterinary observe in San Francisco. He impressed me together with his heat and information manner again when, and he’s solely gotten hotter and extra educated with time on this difficult area.

I requested Dr. Bryan whether or not he nonetheless feels hopeful about treating canine most cancers, and he mentioned he completely does. “What gives me hope is the fact that we make progress every year,” he instructed me. “I watch brilliant young clinicians and researchers become attracted to oncology every year, making me optimistic for creative new solutions. Companies come along with new approaches to treating cancer all the time. Some of these work very well.”

Dr. Jeffrey Bryan in 2000, when he was nonetheless in a basic observe veterinarian in San Francisco. Coincidently, he’s analyzing a affected person he had been treating for mammary most cancers

Dr. Bryan jogged my memory, nevertheless, that it’s fruitless to hope for the “end” of most cancers. “Cancer will always be with us, I’m afraid,” he says. “It’s an evolutionary disease. We need to continue to get better at recognizing it early, addressing it comfortably, and fitting the most effective treatment to each patient.”

Dr. Bryan’s observations mirror among the latest approaches to most cancers therapy, whether or not it’s for people or canines. Some researchers are shifting towards reframing most cancers as a persistent sickness, one the place sufferers can coexist with most cancers cells (so long as the most cancers is prevented from rising unchecked). It is hoped that new diagnostics could be developed to supply the earliest identification attainable after which eradicate cancerous cells at inception, thereby stopping them from growing into an untreatable malignancy. 

As depressed as I’m concerning the prevalence of canine most cancers, I do discover hope within the work of Dr. Bryan and all of his colleagues working within the specialty of veterinary oncology. Remarkable advances have been made in treating our canine companions, supported by the developments in affiliated fields akin to imaging, rehabilitation, ache administration, and pharmacology. Advances within the fields of palliative care and immunotherapy have grown exponentially; the latter is particularly promising. 


In my 5 earlier articles, I described the newest diagnostic instruments and coverings for the commonest canine cancers: mast cell tumors (July 2019), osteosarcoma (August), lymphoma (September), melanoma (October), and hemangiosarcoma (November). 

There are myriad assets out there to be taught extra about canine most cancers – the above-mentioned sorts and others that we have now not written about – and this info, just like the illness itself, is consistently altering. 

If your canine (like my two Border Collies) is recognized with an unusual kind, an web search will convey up a mess of outcomes; do analysis however be discerning in your strategy. Look for respected sources and scientific help for any claims. Many veterinary faculties and specialty clinics have web sites with sections for pet homeowners to be taught extra about numerous illnesses and coverings; these are credible sources for info. Below, you’ll discover some extra beginning factors for dependable info.

Veterinary oncology specialists. While an skilled basic veterinary practitioner who has a particular curiosity in canine most cancers shall be an enormous asset to you, I can’t advocate it strongly sufficient that you just hunt down assist from a board-certified veterinary oncologist. 

These specialists have obtained intensive oncology coaching after veterinary faculty, handed examinations, and accomplished publication necessities to obtain certification by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). When they turn out to be licensed in oncology by the ACVIM, they may add the letters DACVIM after their names (the “D” is for Diplomate). 

You can use a function on the ACVIM web site to seek for board-certified veterinary specialists ( If there are not any oncology specialists in your space, your veterinarian ought to be capable of seek the advice of with specialists positioned farther afield to develop an acceptable therapy plan on your canine.

Clinical Trials. In order to enhance detection and therapy of illness, probably the most promising experimental or investigational therapies have to be examined in medical trials. The security and efficacy of those therapies and procedures have usually been evaluated first in laboratory animals and the remedy is taken into account to be of potential profit to the affected person. Your canine might or might not profit from participation in a medical trial, however these research advance veterinary science and have the potential to enhance the outcomes of future generations of canine.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) maintains the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database, which supplies info on veterinary medical trials reported by researchers. Searches for related research could be carried out utilizing the parameters of analysis, location, species, and area of veterinary drugs (akin to oncology). See

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation funds scientific analysis with the aim of enhancing the well being of canine. For a hyperlink to the trials they fund, see

In addition, the Veterinary Cancer Society web site maintains a web page with hyperlinks to most of the organizations that provide veterinary medical trials. See

Books. There are a variety of books which can be very useful for advancing your understanding of canine most cancers. My favorites are:

  • The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, by Demian Dressler, DVM, with Susan Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM Oncology (Maui Media, 2011). A complete information for sensible, evidence-based approaches to canine cancers, together with standard, integrative, and various therapy choices, supportive care, monetary concerns, and assets to assist homeowners optimize lifespan and high quality of life.
  • Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, by Nancy Kay, DVM (Trafalgar Square Books, 2008). An invaluable useful resource for pet homeowners to assist navigate veterinary care and choices.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner, 2010). The quintessential e book about most cancers – its historical past, discoveries, setbacks, therapies, and hopes for the longer term.
  • The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last, by Azra Raza (Hatchette Book Group, 2019). An exploration of the most cancers “industry” and a name for change in analysis and therapy.

Websites. There isn’t any scarcity of web sites with details about canine most cancers. The checklist of web sites with up-to-date, credible, comprehensible info is shorter. These are a number of of my advisable sources of knowledge for pet homeowners. 

  • and Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practising veterinarian and board-certified most cancers specialist, worldwide speaker, e book creator, and vlogger (video blogger). Her info is up-to-date and intensely accessible.
  • An ideal useful resource protecting every thing from the newest in most cancers information to assets to complete articles, that includes Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger, authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
  • The Morris Animal Foundation bridges science and assets to advance the well being of animals. The basis is on the forefront of funding most cancers research in canine, together with the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of many largest, most complete potential canine well being research within the United States. The research’s function is to determine the dietary, environmental, way of life, and genetic threat components for most cancers and different illnesses in canine.
  • The Center for Cancer Research is a division of the National Cancer Institute underneath the National Institutes of Health. In 2003, the Comparative Oncology Program was launched to help analysis in furthering the understanding of most cancers and enhancing the evaluation of therapies for people by treating companion animals. Comparative oncology is the research of naturally growing cancers in animals as fashions for human illness. Through these trials, pets acquire entry to leading edge analysis and therapeutics; the outcomes then help the additional growth of human medical trials. The web site additionally supplies illness info, hyperlinks to medical trials, information, and publications.
  • This web site has a “Canine Cancer Library” that gives detailed info on an ever-expanding checklist of sorts of cancers. The Foundation’s weblog presents newest canine most cancers information and associated tales.
  • General veterinary details about most cancers in pets.
  • An easy-to-use free search engine that accesses the total textual content or metadata of scholarly literature throughout an array of publishing codecs and disciplines; an amazing useful resource to search for printed analysis on canine cancers.


In all of the articles about canine most cancers printed right here, I by no means had a chance to debate holistic look after canine present process therapy for most cancers. It’s an enormous subject, and one I hope to put in writing about in a future difficulty. 

The creator’s Border Collie, Daisy, asking to play Frisbee instantly after certainly one of her chemotherapy therapy.

Holistic veterinarians embrace a broad strategy to care, not solely analyzing the affected person, but in addition the affected person’s surroundings, habits, relationships, and illness patterns. Veterinarians who self-identify as holistic, integrative, or complementary might have quite a lot of instructional experiences and coaching; they could increase their standard veterinary drugs with chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, and/or different modalities. Their therapy protocols, then, will depend upon their training, coaching, and expertise. 

Note: Veterinarians who determine as providing “alternative” drugs may not use standard veterinary drugs or collaborate with standard veterinary practitioners. Make certain you’re clear about what they do and don’t supply. 

My major veterinarian is a holistic practitioner and was a precious member of Daisy’s crew. Throughout Daisy’s sickness, he supported her with acupuncture, low stage mild remedy, diet, and medicinal herbs. He labored intently along with her oncologist to make sure protected and helpful integrative care. Complementary therapies could be of nice profit to pets with most cancers, and holistic veterinarians may also help create these personalised help plans.

To find a holistic veterinarian close to you, go to the web site of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, a bunch of member veterinarians and allies who’re elevating the veterinary career via innovation, training, and advocacy of integrative drugs. Go to


One final useful resource – an necessary one. Most most cancers therapies for canine are costly, as are the diagnostics and supportive care. I used to be lucky; on the time when my canine have been stricken, I had the funds to deal with each of my canine. I don’t have these monetary assets now, however I do have pet insurance coverage for my present canine. 

If you’ve got neither the funds nor pet insurance coverage, there are a selection of monetary assets out there for canine with most cancers; the Humane Society of the United States retains a present checklist of nationwide and state-specific pet monetary assist organizations on the following web page:


The resolution to deal with (or not deal with) a pet for most cancers is a private resolution; there isn’t any proper or improper strategy. Cancers are a bunch of very difficult and various illnesses with every oncology case being medically distinctive. I opted to deal with each of my canine and I used to be lucky to have gained extra time with them. More time to eat ice cream collectively. To play ball and Frisbee. To cuddle on the couch. To share synchronized respiration whereas falling asleep collectively. To dream collectively. Every second is a present. 

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