When it comes to pet cancer, there are no right or wrong treatment choices. Some pet parents choose to fight it with chemotherapy, some do not. If you’re leaning away from conventional treatment for your dog or cat, you’ll appreciate today’s discussion about Tripawd chemotherapy candidates and alternatives. Our featured expert is Dr. Bernard Séguin, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS, ACVS Founding Fellow – Surgical Oncology and Associate Professor, Surgical Oncology at Colorado State University Flint Animal Cancer Center.
Learn About Tripawd Chemotherapy Candidates and Alternatives
Veterinary oncologists typically recommend chemotherapy as a first line of defense for your pet’s cancer therapy. For many cancers, statistics show that pets and people alike have better survival odds when chemotherapy is given.
However, all animals are different and so are their situations. Some pet parents cannot pursue chemotherapy for financial reasons and some opt out because they live too far from a treatment center. Whatever a member’s reason, our community stands by their choice.
If you are currently weighing the pros and cons of chemotherapy, stick around. Our latest interviews with experts from the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University kicks off with helpful information to assist you in making a decision. You’ll learn if any pets are not good candidates for chemotherapy, and learn about pet cancer treatments other than chemotherapy.
Are there any pets that are not good candidates for chemo?
Transcript: Vet Oncology Q&A: What cancer pets are not good candidates for chemo?
Question: Are there any pets who are not good candidates for chemotherapy?
Dr. Séguin: I need to think about that one. So the patients that are not goof candidates for chemotherapy would be pets that maybe very ill to begin with. And so I’m going to use the example of a lymphoma. So you may be very ill but if it’s because of a lymphoma then you’re likely to get much better once you start chemotherapy. So that’s a different scenario. So in that scenario, I would say, well, you may be very ill but because it’s good for your cancer, you should still go ahead and treat it. And chances are, if you respond you’re going to feel a lot better.
But if you have other concurrent what we call comorbidity, so other diseases or other illnesses then you might not be a good candidate. So for example, if you have a heart disease, there are certainly – depending on what your heart disease is, but you certainly should be very careful before taking a drug specifically called doxorubicin.
Nowadays, we really don’t use cisplatin anymore but if we thought that that was the best drug and you had kidney disease, we would recommend against it. So there may be some specific instances where we say chemotherapy is not a good idea depending on what the chemo agent is and what the concurrent health issue is. But by and large, most dogs are going to tolerate chemotherapy very well.
So on the topic of chemotherapy, about 5% of dogs are going to have very severe side effects. The flip side is that 95% have minimal to mild side effects. If the dog happens to be in the 5%, nobody is going to push to continue all of the treatment. So we are going to – as a matter of fact, we will be the first one to say, “This is not for you.”
So what are the strategies that we can stop all together? We might be able to offer another drug and just because you are very sick on one drug does not mean that you are going to be very sick on the other drug.
We can do what we call a dose reduction. So there are different strategies that we can use. If the side effects were too severe, we may still be able to continue chemotherapy whether we do a dose reduction or we change the type of drug but certainly, a client has always the right to say, “This is not for us,” and we just stop the treatment all together.
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Pet Cancer Treatment Options Other Than Chemotherapy
Transcript: Vet Oncology Q&A- Pet Cancer Treatment Options Other Than Chemotherapy
Question: Dr. Séguin, what are the current treatment options for dogs and cats whose owners don’t want to do the chemotherapy or they cannot for some reason?
Dr. Séguin: So there are – the three main treatments for tumors currently are either surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. And so, if an owner decides that chemotherapy is not for them, it’s very dependent tumor type. And so, we can make generalization but it’s very, very important that each tumor type is considered as its own entity to make decisions. But amputation for limbs and radiation therapy can be other treatments as well.
Question: OK. And can you tell me more about radiation therapy? Maybe describe the different types and the pros and cons.
Dr. Séguin: Yeah. So there are different ways or different protocols I should say which really comes down to different ways of delivering the radiation if I can say it this way. And so, you have where people are more used to traditional radiation therapy which typically is every day, Monday through Friday for about three to four weeks. And that’s when we have what we call a curative intent. So we may not achieve that goal but the goal was to try to really control the tumor long term.
The alternative curative intent would be palliative, and that’s definitely not as intense as far as the number of treatments. Curative intent can also be stereotactic radiation therapy which is a different type of radiation that uses a higher level of technology, if I can say it that way. And it allows the delivery of very, very high dose radiation to a very specific area of the body, mainly the tumor. So the big advantage is that you can deliver a very high dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the tissues around.
And so with that technology, it allows us to do fewer treatments to accomplish the goal of controlling the tumor.
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Special thanks to Dr. Séguin and the wonderful team at the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University for generously allowing us to visit and share this information with the Tripawds community.