New cancer treatment for dogs being used in Gastonia – Queen City News


GASTONIA, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Dog owners will tell you that their four-legged-best friends are typically a member of the family. Right now, a new cancer drug for dogs is being used locally and has proven successful for a number of canines.

The drug is called Stelfonta and it’s derived from a rainforest plant in Australia. Recently an advisory board of veterinarians was created to research and test the drug.

Currently, it’s being used at a vet clinic in Gastonia and saved the life and limb of a senior rescue dog named Rella.

Brea Barlow adopted Rella from a rescue shelter six years ago and she quickly became a member of her everyday life

“She goes to school with me, college and everything. I would do anything to help her quality of life and keep her with us longer,” said Barlow.

A test of that bond happened just last year. Rella formed a lump on her back leg. A trip to the ForestBrook Animal Hospital in Gastonia revealed that the lump was a mast cell tumor,

“This tumor when it is on a limb cannot be resected. The only way to get the wide resection is to take the leg,” said Dr. Mark Epstein.

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Other than the tumor, Rella was healthy and didn’t show any effects from the lump on her leg.

“The tumor was getting bigger and bigger which is why we brought her in and were worried about it, but it wasn’t affecting her enough that I was willing to amputate the leg,” Barlow said.

Rella was a candidate for the new drug Stelfonta. The medicine is injected into the mast cell tumor, killing the tumor and causing it to rot away.

Although never before used at the animal clinic, Dr. Mark Epstein was familiar with the drug after serving on the advisory board.

“I knew very well how it worked and I knew very well what my expectations were,” said Dr. Epstein.

Following the injection, the expectation is for the tumor to go away in a matter of weeks. What’s left behind is a hole where healthy tissue can form.

Each case is unique. For Rella, two injections proved successful to make her cancer free.

“It has saved her life and has stopped the cancer from spreading so I would definitely recommend,” said Barlow.

Before using this new drug there were several long conversations between Dr. Epstein and Brea Barlow explaining exactly what would happen and the expectations.

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