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Advances in Veterinary Oncology How Your Pet Can Live Longer with Quality

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Seth Glasser, DVM
Board Certified Veterinary Oncologist
Garden State Veterinary Specialists

The world of oncology (treatment of cancer) is rapidly progressing for both humans and our companion animal friends. Great strides have been made in the advancement of cancer diagnostics and therapy for people. While there is some lag in the veterinary world, we are starting to see the introduction of newer therapies and treatment options for animals with cancer. Many of the newer diagnostics make it possible for doctors to better understand the type and behavior of the cancer, translating into more appropriate and specific treatments. Not only are these newer therapies helpful in extending the lives of people and animals with cancer, many of them are associated with fewer toxicities resulting in improved quality of life.

An emerging area of medicine is where physicians prime a patient’s own immune system to focus and seek out disease, called immunotherapy. There are many applications for this outside the realm of cancer therapy as well. In veterinary medicine a vaccine has been formulated for the treatment of oral melanoma, the most common cancer of a dog’s mouths. This cancer is very aggressive with a high spread rate to lymph nodes and the lungs. In patients that have their tumors adequately controlled, survival times have been significantly extended with the administration of a vaccine known as Oncept®. Oncept® is fully licensed in dogs and is associated with minimal risk of side effects. Two newer conditionally licensed immunotherapies include the feline IL-2 vaccine indicated for feline fibrosarcoma and canine lymphoma vaccine. Both vaccines are indicated in conjunction with the current standard of care to treat these diseases but have shown improved survival. Lastly, an exciting vaccine has been studied and soon will be released for use in treating canine osteosarcoma. This vaccine, when combined with amputation and chemotherapy, appears to offer marked extension in survival times and could revolutionize the treatment of such an aggressive and often fatal cancer.

Canine lymphoma is one of the most common cancers treated in dogs. Over the past 20 years, limited novel therapies have been introduced. About three months ago, VetDC began releasing Tanovea™-CA1. This is the first FDA conditionally approved chemotherapy for the treatment of canine lymphoma. While available nationwide, full licensure is pending a full demonstration of effectiveness.

The introduction of precision-guided radiation, including stereotactic radiotherapy, has made it possible to treat tumors in far fewer sessions with pinpoint accuracy. Stereotactic radiotherapy may replace surgery in areas that are not amenable for surgery, such as unresectable brain, spinal and nasal tumors. This form of radiation, while not appropriate for all tumors, is typically associated with fewer adverse events and less anesthesia.

While the aforementioned treatments are available at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, it is important to discuss your pet’s condition with your veterinarian to determine whether referral to a specialist is recommended.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the professional advice of your veterinarian.

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