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Health: New Canine Cancer Treatments Available

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by Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cancer isn’t just for humans.  It’s a big problem for pets too, and now new treatments are becoming available for our four legged friends.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on cancer cures for canines.

It’s estimated that one third of  dogs, and one in every four cats will get cancer at some point in their lives.  But veterinarians are finding new ways to help pets live longer and better lives, with fewer side effects.

Meet Maizey, and Dakota.  Both pooches are battling cancer.

“Had no appetite. She couldn’t keep anything down.  And unfortunately it got to the point where she couldn’t walk,” said Joan Brown, Maizey’s owner.

Veterinarians treat between four and six million cases of canine cancer each year, using radiation and in Maizey’s case newer chemotherapy drugs, like Palladia, which targets certain molecules in cancer cells to kill them.

“Her survival time instead of being 2 months it’s likely going to be between one and three years,” said Dr. Gerald Post, a Veterinary Oncologist.

Warning signs of cancer in pets are similar to people.  Watch for a lump that gets bigger or changes shape,  unexplained bleeding or chronic weight loss.

Dakota had surgery to get a fast-growing lump removed.  The vet followed up with a new treatment called IMRT or Intensity modulated radiation therapy that he hopes will cure Dakota.

“We can kill cancer cells with those dosage of radiation that spare all the normal tissues around that area,” said Dr. Post.

Vets are also prescribing new anti-nausea medications to minimize the side effects, and it worked for Dakota.

Cancer treatments for animals can be expensive and usually aren’t covered by insurance.

Locally, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine is doing research on canine cancer.

Link:  University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Canine Cancer Information

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