May has been designated as Pet Cancer Awareness Month (as well as November by certain groups). The American Kennel Club's Canine Health Foundation is actively working to fight this devastating health problem in all dogs.
Thirty percent of all senior dogs will die from some type of cancer. The CHF has donated $10.7 million to help research canine cancers. A common cancer in large breed dogs is osteosarcoma or cancer of the bones. Lameness is generally the first sign that families notice. Sometimes swelling on a bone which is usually painful to the touch will be the first hint of a problem.
Treatment for osteosarcoma has advanced rapidly over the years. Initially the only option was to amputate the affected leg. Dogs adjust to amputation very well as long as the other legs are normal. In recent years, a variety of chemotherapy protocols have been adapted to help fight any spread or metastasis of the cancer. The combination of chemotherapy and surgery have led to longer remission for affected dogs.
Because osteosarcoma can be extremely painful, research has also looked at pain management for dogs with this cancer. Oral medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and palliative radiation have helped to keep dogs comfortable. Genetic studies may lead to screening to prevent or treat dogs predisposed to bone cancers. This podcast provides an update on osteosarcoma research.
The work done by the Canine Health Foundation covers many types of cancers. The research they support is valuable for all dogs - both purebreds and mixes. Some of the canine research, as shown in this podcast, will also be applicable to human cancer patients. You can update yourself on some of the latest treatment techniques here via this podcast.
Osteosarcoma used to be a rapid and painful death sentence for many dog,s especially dogs of the giant and large breeds. While there is still much work to be done, there is some hope and increased quality and length of life available for many of these dogs.