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24 September 2009
When lung metastasis happens in a dog with osteosarcoma, inhalation chemotherapy is often mentioned in the Tripawds Treatment and Recovery Discussion Forum topic. But is it a viable option to fight lung tumors?
We asked Dr. Kim Selting, DVM, MS, ACVIM Oncology, at the University of Missouri's Animal Cancer Care clinic about this treatment, since she has experience using novel chemotherapy protocols like inhalation chemo in canine patients with osteosarcoma.
What is Inhalation Chemotherapy?
Inhalation chemotherapy uses a nebulizer to fight metastasis growth, by delivering a chemotherapy agent, such as cisplatin, directly to the lungs. For most dogs, this type of treatment has few side effects compared to traditional IV chemo.
In the Vet360 white paper Breathe in, Breathe out: Using the Airway to Combat Cancer, Dr. Selting explains:
These evaluation and treatment methods show great promise because they are noninvasive and adaptable to clinical practice with minimal equipment. Further development is needed but preliminary results are promising.
The downside to inhalation chemotherapy is that it can be cumbersome, mainly because of the logistics of putting a mask on your dog's muzzle for any length of time. Tripawd Tika and her people tried it a few years ago, and you can read about their experience here in the Forums.
Does Inhalation Chemotherapy Have a Future?
Inhalation chemo treatment isn't widely practiced, which is why your oncologist might not have heard of it. We asked Dr. Selting if veterinary oncology researchers like herself have any plans to further develop this type of non-invasive chemotherapy, so that more pet pawrents have it as a realistic option when they get the bad news about lung metastasis.
Dr. Selting explained that many oncologists are excited about it, but the logistics of implementing it in patients are daunting for even the savviest veterinarian. However, this treatment has done well in clinical trials and shows a lot of promise to keep metastasis away. So, it's not being shelved completely.
She told us that further exploration of new protocols like this comes down to acquiring more funding, and right now there is little money out there for it. Researchers like Dr. Selting must acquire more funds to develop this treatment and others derived from it.
Fighting Metastasis with Breath Samples
For example, Dr. Selting explained that other exciting ways of utilizing inhalation chemotherapy are being investigated by researchers. One method under study will enable oncologists to uncover new lung mets just by taking breath samples of dogs who have been undergoing inhalation chemotherapy. In the Vet360 white paper she explains:
Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) can be collected from breath humidity in a cooled chamber and used for non-invasive assessment of lung health. EBC contains proteins, nucleic acids, and metabolic byproducts and can be analyzed using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to characterize chemical fingerprints of metabolic processes. Additionally, proteomic profiling using surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (SELDI-TOF) may identify novel proteins present in the breath of diseased individuals.
Did you get that?
What it comes down to is this; by helping to support organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation and 2 Million Dogs, you know your hard-earned dollars are being put to work by scientists like Dr. Selting, so that one day in addition to finding better ways to manage cancer in animals, we can eliminate it completely.
Dr. Selting; Working for Animals Everywhere
A big shout-out goes to Dr. Selting for spending time with us recently. It's hard to believe she found the time; in addition to her work on exciting new cancer treatments, she's also working on completing an additional board-certification for radiation oncology, sits on the board of the National Canine Cancer Foundation and she's a parent too!
Thanks to the tireless work of dedicated veterinary oncologists like her, we have no doubt that science is closer than ever to managing and eradicating this awful disease in our companion animals.
Dr. Selting Leads Breakthrough Care at University of Missouri Animal Cancer Center
Vet 360: Breathe in, Breathe out: Using the Airway to Combat Cancer
Tripawds Discussion Forum: Inhalation Chemotherapy Search Results