A breakthrough cancer treatment for dogs

(WNDU) – Half of all dogs over the age of ten will develop cancer in their lifetime. Although the treatment sounds like that of their human counterparts, surgery, chemo and radiation, the cure rate is just about 20 percent.

Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while there is less information about the rate of cancer in cats.

Some cancers, such as lymphoma, are more common in cats than in dogs. Unfortunately, the cause of most neoplastic diseases is not known and, therefore, prevention is difficult.

There is evidence that secondhand smoke increases the risk of some cancers in dogs and cats.

Spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer in dogs. Half of all breast neoplasms in dogs and greater than 85 percent of all breast neoplasms in cats are malignant, and spaying female pets before 12 months of age reduces this risk.

Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer. Conversely, there is evidence that spaying, and neutering can increase the risk of certain other cancers. Genetic predisposition to some cancers in certain breeds or breeding lines has also been reported.

But now, breakthrough technology is helping dogs beat the odds, and may even impact how cancer is treated in humans.

9-year-old Lincoln didn’t miss a step after losing his front leg to cancer last year. But it was what doctors found during a routine follow-up exam that worried his parents.

“There’s 250 milliliters of fluid in his lungs,” said Monisha Seth, Lincoln’s owner.

A mass was blocking one of the major veins that drains his heart and it was located in a very difficult place to treat with radiation, until now.

The veterinary oncology team at the University of Florida began treating their furry cancer patients with the Varient Edge – precise radiation technology that’s on par, if not better than, equipment used in top human hospitals.

“It’s going to increase our ability to treat tumors that are near important structures in the body that we’re trying not to harm,” said Christopher Adin, Small Animal Clinical Services at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

The machine can adjust in real time to motion happening inside the body.

“It actually has the ability to know when the patient is breathing and to move with it,” Adin said.

Lincoln was treated on four consecutive Fridays with radiation precisely to the tumor without damaging any surrounding tissue.

And now, Lincoln’s tumor is shrinking and may even disappear.

“A human would probably suffer, you know, struggle with it, but he’s just been so, you know, stoic and energetic,” Monisha said.

Doctors hope this new technology will allow them to treat more animals that they never could have before. University of Florida is one of only three veterinary colleges in the country to own the Varient Edge.

Monisha says the treatments for Lincoln, not including follow up, cost her about $4,000.

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