Archive for the ‘Cancer Research’ Category

National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund a new innovative Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) Research Project

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

I have some new exciting news. As you all know we are always trying to find an new edge in the battle against canine cancer. And Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is one of those cancers we would like to get a better handle on since it seems to end up being diagnosed too late to save the dog. In fact, we are so keen on finding out how to deal with HSA that we have actually initiated our own research project on HSA with G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. This is very exciting for the NCCF because this type of research on HSA has never been tried. Let me tell you how it all came about by first talking about a dog name Batman.

Batman was the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, led by doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. They developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. First they removed the tumor surgically. Then, in some cases, they use local gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and finally they created a personalized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.

I personally love the thought of taking a cancer that was killing a dog and turning it into a personalized vaccine to kill the cancer!

Dr. Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Dr. Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Batman led a normal life unaffected by his tumor until his death from cardiac failure in February 2010, there was no tumor recurrence. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”

Then something interesting happened. Almost one year ago, Davis Hawn’s then 8-year-old yellow lab, Booster, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nasal sinus. Booster was given three weeks to live. Hawn did not want to accept the death sentence and began searching the country for a cure. His search led him to doctors in Florida who removed Booster’s tumor and gave him chemo. An online search then led him to Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar from the University of Minnesota’s canine brain tumor clinical program. Davis asked her to help his dog, but Dr. Pluhar had never made a vaccine for this type of cancer before. But Davis was not going to take no for an answer so she did agree to try. She shipped the vaccine off and ten months later Booster is cancer free.

Then after Davis contacted the NCCF to tell us about how well the vaccine works, we contacted Dr. Pluhar to ask if she would be willing to try the same research that was successful with brain cancer and skin cancer, and use the same protocol to try dealing with splenic HSA. The NCCF’s thinking is that with all these other cancers, the similarities were that the cancer had to be removed and a vaccine needed to be created from the cancer cells. With splenic HSA, one of the more common forms of HSA, the spleen is typically removed so we felt that Dr. Pluhar’s research could possibly work. With that in mind, we asked her if she could try and apply her protocol on splenic HSA. After doing some initial research she agreed to do the study based on reaching certain goals before going on to the next level.

First, she needs to insure that we can culture the cancer cells in the lab,

Second, she needs to insure that the tumor vaccines stimulate immune cells to attack tumor cells. If she can achieve these two steps she can go on to treat the HSA cancer. We could not be happier and are guardedly optimistic over this research project.

The cost for this project will be $55,500. I hope you are all as excited as we are about this research and will help fund the project. If you want to help with funding this new innovative NCCF’s initiated project please CLICK HERE or got to this link

Thank you

Gary D. Nice
President and Founder
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Value of Animal Treatment to Human Cancer Medicine

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Dr. Rodney Page thinks the dog is a cancer patient’s best friend. Not in the way you might think. Yes, dogs offer loyal companionship that might be especially meaningful to a pet owner facing disease diagnosis and treatment.

There’s more. Page, as director of Colorado State University’s world-renowned Flint Animal Cancer Center, is leading a push within the field of cancer medicine to view dogs with naturally occurring disease as the ideal route to improving cancer treatment in people.

Dr. Rodney L. Page, Professor of Oncology and Director of the CSU Animal Cancer Center

On Aug. 14, the Stephen J. Withrow Presidential Chair in Oncology was officially conferred to Page during a reception on campus, a ceremony significant for what the chair will provide: funding to support studies that promise to help both pets and people with cancer.

An academic chair is a funding mechanism that provides investment revenue from an endowment – in this case, an impressive $6 million endowment – to boost teaching, research and service in a field of interest to donors. This chair is named for Dr. Steve Withrow, founding director of the CSU Animal Cancer Center, University Distinguished Professor and pioneer in the field of veterinary oncology.

“More than 700 generous donors contributed to this endowment, which is a tremendous testament to their appreciation for Dr. Withrow’s unparalleled cancer treatment and innovations,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We are grateful for this support in honor of Dr. Withrow because it will allow the Animal Cancer Center, under the guidance of Dr. Page, to carry on a vital legacy in cancer discoveries.”

Funding from the prestigious chair not only supports continued treatment of pets with cancer, but supports the application of knowledge gained to improve treatment for people with cancer.

What does that mean?

It starts here: The Animal Cancer Center books some 6,000 appointments each year with animal cancer patients, primarily dogs. Job No. 1 is healing these patients with medication, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

As Page often says, “Cancer is cancer,” meaning the disease appears, progresses and responds to treatment in much the same way no matter the species. So it makes sense that human treatment should benefit from the vast medical data and knowledge gained in the course of treating pets.

Withrow was an early proponent. When Page took over as center director in 2010, he likewise took up the mantle of canine oncology within the sphere of translational medicine, meaning medical knowledge that may be translated from one species to another.

Page, a CSU veterinary alumnus who was mentored by Withrow, explains the translational role of canine oncology – and more – in the following Q&A.

Question: Dr. Withrow saw the canine oncology patient very early in his career as a model for understanding human cancer. That has continued at the Flint Animal Cancer Center, and is part of the legacy you carry on. Yet, it’s still a concept not a lot of people know about. Can you explain?

Dr. Rod Page: Cancer is cancer. The same mechanisms that result in cancer in humans are operative in dogs, and are operative in other animals as well. The thing that is valuable – and I believe will continue to grow in its value – is the information that can be gathered through well-done clinical studies in companion animals with naturally occurring cancers. The ability to look at why a tumor spreads or why a tumor becomes resistant to drugs in a relevant environment is how we foresee our scientific program growing in the future.

Question: What’s your elevator speech if you were to meet an oncologist in human medicine and they hadn’t been exposed to the concept of using dogs with cancer as a model for understanding human cancer?

Page: It starts with noting that dogs share our environment. They’re exposed to the same sorts of insults that we are exposed to, and they develop naturally occurring, genetically based diseases more than any other species next to man. More than 400 diseases have been identified as genetically based, and many of those are cancer. In addition, dogs age much more rapidly than people, so tumors develop much more rapidly. This means that, as we treat our canine patients, we can ask and answer the same questions but in a fraction of the time that it takes in a human study.

Question: Talk about the comparative oncology trials that are ongoing at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. How would you summarize the overall goal of those trials?

Page: Whether the study is about improving animal health, or whether it is a lead-in to a human trial, the focus is always on innovation – trying to find ways to do it better, trying to overcome limitations on treatment for cancers. It’s all about improving the bottom line of cancer treatment. We have trials that are conducted for cancer drugs, radiation, new diagnostic tests, and all are part of moving the profession forward for the benefit of pets and people.

Question: Could you point to three major breakthroughs at the Flint Animal Cancer Center that have had a direct influence on human cancer treatment and its effectiveness?

Page: The homeruns that have been provided already include an understanding of radiation response for head and neck cancer, which was done by Dr. Ed Gillette in the ’90s. Up until the advent of very new technologies, that was the basis for the treatment protocol. There’s also the limb-sparing surgery for cancer patients that was advanced by Steve and Dr. Ross Wilkins, a human orthopedic surgeon. It has allowed patients, primarily children, to keep their limbs when undergoing cancer surgery and is recognized as the standard for kids with bone cancer. Another example is the development of a product that stimulates the immune system and has resulted in an improvement in survival for kids with bone cancer by delaying metastasis. That product is currently available, but not yet in the United States because of regulatory issues.

Question: Of some of the studies you currently have under way, is there something that shows particular promise for advancing human cancer treatment and its understanding?

Page: We’re part of a study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, which involves multiple institutions and is evaluating compounds for the treatment of lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. We are looking at the response to treatment in dogs with lymphoma, and we’re also looking at how well this product will work at the microscopic level.

Article reposted from:

Can Cancer in Dogs be Prevented?

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Physicians have known for years that good nutrition and adequate exercise are very important in maintaining our health. Veterinarians are finding that the same advice holds true for our dogs and cats as well.

Early detection is also extremely important. Researchers have proven that finding cancerous lesions before they become malignant or while they are still small and removable can prevent many cancers from becoming life-threatening.

Evidence is mounting that at least for certain types of cancers, the answer is yes.

The newest bit of research comes out of the venerable MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Researchers there concluded that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, is linked to a significant decrease in the incidence of gastric cancer. Previous research published in one of the leading medical journals, The Lancet, demonstrated that taking low doses of aspirin — once daily for at least five years — decreases the chance of a person getting lung, gastrointestinal, or colon cancer.

Although the research was evaluated in people, dogs and cats respond the same way to NSAIDs. Basically, NSAIDs inhibit a group of enzymes in the body, some of which cause inflammation. Inflammation, especially acute inflammation, is essential for wound healing and other important immune functions. When inflammation becomes chronic in nature, cancer risk increases. Cancer seems to be able to co-opt the cells involved in this process and utilize them to allow malignant cells to proliferate.

Therefore, NSAIDs and other compounds that decrease or stop chronic inflammation may be able to prevent cancer in our pets. Compounds within cruciferous — e.g., kale and broccoli — yellow, orange, and red vegetables decrease inflammation, specifically by blocking the lipid compound Prostaglandin E2.Evidence suggests that feeding dogs these type of vegetables at least three times per week can decrease the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds.

Vegetables You Can Feed Your Dog>>

There are risks to the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver from the chronic administration of NSAIDs to dogs. Consult your veterinarian to assess the benefits of cancer prevention against the possible side effects of these medicines. Giving your dogs vegetables, however, comes with little to no risk — unless of course, your dog feels the way I do about Brussels sprouts.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Gerald Post, D.V.M

A Little Scare and Some Big Plans

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

My friend Porter is fighting stage 3 Mast Cell Cancer. He is really a champ, this is his 8th week on Palladia, and the lymph nodes have all shrunk to normal size and he is his normal peppy self.

Porter and I at work

Quite a big change from thinking we had 2-4 weeks left with him. We hike a lot, and at least according to some people, we hike too much (don’t get me started).  It is something that we have done together since he was a pup…

Baby Porter taking a break on top of Moxie Bald Mountain

…and someday (in like 100 years) when he is gone I will walk those same trails and think of him and maybe smile through the tears.

He woke up having trouble walking one morning 2 weeks ago, and together we made it down the stairs. I noticed it was his right front leg that he was having issues with.

It was so hard seeing him so confused and in pain, and being able to do nothing to help him.

When you are dealing with a complex medical condition such as cancer, you think everything that happens is because of the cancer. This isn’t necessarily so, but still, when the problem your buddy is having is on the same side of the cancer – the place you know it is likely to spread – you can’t help but worry.

What bothered me was that we hadn’t hiked or done anything to speak of for almost 2 weeks. If he hurt himself hiking, it would have shown up before then – which is exactly what freaked me out.

So we went to the vet, did x-rays, and determined that it was thankfully not cancer causing the problem, it was something else, likely a soft tissue injury or some sort.

I felt like we dodged a bullet. Since our vet wasn’t sure what exactly was causing his pain, she prescribed rest, pain medicine, and an anti inflammatory.

Within 2 days, he was back to himself. I kept him rested for another week or so, going on a few easy walks along the river/Wyman Lake.

Kennebec River near Wyman Lake

Kennebec River near Wyman Lake

Yesterday we went back up to Moxie Bald Mountain (and forgot our camera, but trust me, it is a freaking cool place).

Porter and I had big plans to do this epic back packing trip this fall to help increase awareness about canine cancer and to raise money for the National Canine Cancer Foundation, who funds grants to cancer researchers to help find better cures, treatments, and to find more accurate, cost effective ways to diagnose canine cancer.

Well, in light of Porter’s mystery injury, we amended our plans.

We now have a trip planned that is a little less epic, but still very cool! We are going to hike from Rt. 27 in Stratton/Eustis, across the Bigelow Range, and then home to Caratunk – 37 miles.

We are still going to work to raise money to help fund canine cancer research, in hopes it will help others facing the same issues as we are (click HERE to donate).

We are saving the epic trip for next year – we are going to celebrate him beating the odds. I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading!

Mandy & Porter

Story reposted from:

Written by: caratunkgirl

Learn about common Canine Cancer Lymphoma

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Lymphoma is a common form of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels, nodes, and organs that are part of the circulatory system.

“The lymphatic system produces B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes, disease-fighting white blood cells that travel through the blood in a fluid called lymph,” says Mona Rosenberg, D.V.M., a board-certified veterinary oncologist and founder of Veterinary Cancer Group, which has four locations in Southern California. “Lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes grow uncontrollably, forming tumors in the lymph nodes that can spread to the organs, tissues, and bone marrow.”

Symptoms of Dog Lymphoma:

The most common sign of early-stage lymphoma is enlargement of one or more lymph nodes, located near the front of the jaw, in the armpits and groin, at the front of the shoulders, and behind the knees. “Many owners discover the enlarged nodes when petting their dogs,” Rosenberg says.

More advanced signs include:

  • Anorexia, or lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drinking
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

Risk Factors for Dogs with Lymphoma:

Although any dog can get lymphoma, certain breeds are genetically predisposed, including:

  • Boxers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Retrievers, including Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • St. Bernards

Lymphoma occurs equally in males and females, with middle-aged to older dogs most often affected.

Diagnosis of Lymphoma in Dogs:

The first step of diagnosis is typically a fine needle aspiration, during which the veterinarian inserts a tiny needle into an enlarged lymph node to extract a cell sample. The cells are viewed under a microscope to determine if they are abnormal.

Other tests include:

  • Core needle biopsy to check for tissue abnormalities
  • Blood work to look for cancer in the organs
  • X-rays to check for cancer in the lungs
  • Ultrasound to look for cancer in the gastrointestinal tract and surrounding organs

Lymphoma is classified by stage — ranging from 1 to 5 — and the type of lymphocytes affected. “Dogs at all stages can respond to treatment and go into remission,” Rosenberg says. “However, dogs with B-cell lymphoma statistically live longer than those with T-cell lymphoma.” About 75 percent of canine lymphomas are B-cell.

Treatment for Dogs with Lymphoma:

Since lymphoma travels in the bloodstream, veterinarians use chemotherapy drugs to target the entire body. Rosenberg says that a typical protocol involves a combination of pills and injections administered over a six-month period.

“Ninety percent of dogs treated with chemotherapy go into remission, and most don’t suffer any adverse side effects,” she says. Untreated dogs typically live only four to eight weeks from the time of diagnosis, while the median survival time for treated dogs is about one year.

Rosenberg advises that owners discuss treatment options with their veterinarian and a veterinary oncologist to determine the appropriate protocol.

Cancer Prevention:

Although no known prevention for cancer exists, Rosenberg recommends a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate exercise, a nutritious diet, and avoidance of unnecessary environmental toxins.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Diana Lavedure

Dog Study Suggests Bacteria as Cancer Fighter

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Pet dogs have helped researchers show that a special bacteria can seemingly fight cancer, causing tumors to shrink. A modified version of Clostridium novyi bacteria, when injected into solid soft tissue tumors, will eat away at the cancerous cells without harming surrounding healthy tissue, researchers report Aug. 13 in the latest Science Translational Medicine.

Six of 16 canines showed tumor-shrinking response

Researchers injected C. novyi spores into 16 pet dogs being treated for naturally occurring tumors. The bacteria caused an anti-tumor response in six of the dogs within three weeks, researchers report.

The bacteria caused complete eradication of the tumor in three of the six dogs, while the other three showed tumor shrinkage of at least 30 percent.

The C. novyi bacteria also worked well in rats implanted with brain tumor cells.

“When we treated those tumors, we found that C. novyi was able to germinate inside the tumor while sparing the normal brain tissue,” said co-author Dr. Verena Staedtke, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore.

The treatment killed tumor cells but spared healthy cells just a few micrometers away. It also prolonged the rats’ survival, with treated rodents surviving an average of 33 days after the tumor was implanted, compared with an average of 18 days in rats that did not receive the bacteria.

Based on these findings, researchers have begun phase I human trials using the bacteria at multiple sites across the United States.

In one example, a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston received a spore injection directly into an advanced-stage tumor in her shoulder, and experienced significant shrinkage of the tumor in and around the bone, the researchers reported.

“Dog tumors resemble human tumors in many ways,” said study lead author Nicholas Roberts, also a fellow at the Kimmel Cancer Center. “They’re treated with many of the same drugs as humans, and they experience the same toxicities. That was the rationale for treating pet dogs in this study.”

The idea of using bacteria to fight cancer has been around for more than a century, when early cancer researchers found that the presence of certain bacteria appeared to limit tumor development, said senior author Dr. Shibin Zhou, director of experimental therapeutics at the Kimmel Cancer Center’s Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics.

Bacteria that are anaerobic — thriving in oxygen-depleted environments — can serve as an effective means of destroying oxygen-starved cells deep inside solid tumors. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are less effective against these oxygen-starved cancer cells, Zhou said.

Up until now, the problem has been that most bacteria effective against cancer also can do great harm to patients. “Bacteria is very toxic, and those toxins are left behind and can cause problems for the patient,” said Greg Adams, director of biological research and therapeutics for Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

The researchers created a safer version of the C. novyi bacteria by removing a toxin-producing gene.

The dogs and rats treated with C. novyi experienced side effects typical of a bacterial infection — fever, inflammation and discharge from the bacteria-created abscess inside the tumor.

“Those side effects are typically very well-tolerated and managed in this study,” Roberts said.

And because C. novyi is anaerobic, it didn’t appear able to spread into the oxygen-rich healthy tissues outside the tumor, researchers found.

If these results pan out in humans — and scientists note that animal research often fails to provide similar results in humans — bacterial treatment of tumors could be a promising new cancer therapy, Adams said. But researchers will probably need to show that the bacterial infection also triggers the immune system to attack the cancer, he said.

“For this to reach the big-time, you need to be able to trigger the immune response with this treatment,” he said. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective partly because they draw the immune system into the fight, he noted.

However, Adams said he doesn’t think the therapy would be as useful if a person has multiple tumors, or has tumors in locations where an infection could do more harm than good.

“The thought of building an abscess in the brain is scary for me,” he said. “I’m not sure how you would manage that.”

Article reposted from:

Written by: Dennis Thompson

SOURCES: Verena Staedtke, M.D., Ph.D., fellow, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Balitmore, Md.; Nicholas Roberts, Vet.M.B., Ph.D., fellow, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center; Shibin Zhou, M.D., Ph.D., director, experimental therapeutics, Kimmel Cancer Center’s Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics; Greg Adams, Ph.D., director, Biological Research and Therapeutics, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa.; Aug. 13, 2014, Science Translational Medicine

Drug may help dogs with cancer

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Dogs suffering with potentially fatal skin cancer may qualify to receive expensive treatments for free through a route not often available in South Florida: a veterinary clinical drug trial.

The Animal Cancer Care Clinic, which has a hospital and two outpatient clinics in Broward and Palm Beach counties, is testing the drug Kinavet-CA1 for its manufacturer, AB Science. The oral medication has been conditionally approved for mast cell tumors, one of the most common types of canine cancers, and is being further evaluated in the latest phase 3 trial.

Dr. Armando Villamil does a checkup on Betsey, a 7-year-old pug, as part of the canine cancer clinical trial being run at the Animal Cancer Care Clinic in Deerfield Beach. (Carline Jean/Sun Sentinel)

The Kinavet trial “is a unique opportunity, as this drug is only available in a limited amount and is very, very expensive,” said Dr. Stephanie Correa, the veterinary oncologist who owns the practice. Treatments under the drug’s conditional license probably would cost consumers several thousand dollars, she said.

The trial site at the clinic’s Deerfield Beach location is the only one in the southeastern United States and already has enrolled several dogs. Correa hopes to ultimately sign up about 10 animals. As part of the double-blind study, some dogs will receive placebos, but Correa said additional assistance will be available for them.

While the number of small animal drug trials is growing, the vast majority are at veterinarian medicine colleges. And the University of Florida in Gainesville has the state’s only vet school. Select large specialist practices also can be trial sites, however. The cancer clinic, with six locations statewide, previously has tested treatments for canine bone cancer, sarcomas and other diseases.

Cancer is the No. 1 killer of older dogs, with half of pooches older than 10 developing the disease. Six million new cases of canine cancer are diagnosed annually nationwide.

Leigha Hargett, a store manager living in Coral Springs, was stunned when she learned five months ago that the fast-growing lump on her pug Betsey’s back leg was cancer. “I knew dogs could get cancer but didn’t realize how common it was. It’s something you don’t think will happen to your dog,” said Hargett, 30.

Like many people who consider their pets family, Hargett decided she would do anything to save 7-year-old Betsey. She took out a veterinary care line of credit at 26 percent interest, and considered raiding her retirement fund.

Hargett wasn’t aware that clinical trials were a possibility until her primary vet mentioned the Kinavet program. She was “relieved, excited and nervous” when Betsey was accepted and started treatments in June. The tumor has shrunk noticeably “and they tell me she is getting better,” Hargett said.

Opening experimental drugs testing to dog and cat owners is becoming more common, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, with more than 300 small animal clinical trials active nationwide. The public has become so interested in cutting-edge treatments for their pets that the association is exploring creating a national veterinary clinical trial registry, similar to the website maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

Many dogs survive mast cell tumors, which usually look like a red or inflamed lump in a dog’s skin, by having them removed. Some growths are in delicate areas, like the nose, where surgery isn’t an option.

“What’s great is that [Kinavet] can help these animals,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, a South Florida vet who co-founded the multi-state Lap of Love veterinary hospice practice in 2010. Many of her clients are dogs with cancer, and their owners are in despair, she said.

Often, they are afraid to see a veterinarian oncologist and don’t know about clinical trials, said Gardner. These things “can give them a sense of hope,” she said. “I would rather hand them some hope than none.”

For more information to enter Kinavet trial:

News reposted from:

Written by: Diane C. Lade (Sun Sentinel)

What is the Most Common Type of Canine Cancer Diagnosed?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Find out the 6 most common dog cancers veterinarians and veterinary oncologists diagnose and meet patients who have fought and survived them.

As a veterinary oncologist with more than 25 years of clinical practice experience, I am often asked if dogs get cancer and, if so, which types of cancers are most commonly diagnosed.

Gerald Post, D.V.M. with his French Bulldog, Lola and Rottweiler, Lucius

Yes, dogs do get cancer at a rate of about 1 in 4, according to the Animal Cancer Foundation.

With approximately 70 million dogs in the United States, as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, that’s a large group developing cancers that are often very similar biologically to human cancers.

Here are some of my own patients who illustrate the 6 most common cancers veterinarians and veterinary oncologists diagnose:

1. Melanoma: These common cancers are typically found in the mouth or near the paws and have a very high metastatic rate, meaning they often spread to another part of the body.

Smokey, my Miniature Schnauzer of 15 years who first taught me the value of hope, was diagnosed with melanoma in 2003. Like every pet parent, when I saw the mass in his lungs on the radiographs, my heart sank, but with three different types of therapy, Smokey lived more than 2 1/2 years; his life was filled with quality, excitement, and joy — joy for the both of us.

2. Lymphoma: A cancer of the lymphatic system and is analogous to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people.

Maddy, a blue-and-brown-eyed Border Collie, developed lymphoma when she was 7 years old. Maddy’s owner, also a cancer survivor, noticed one of the most common signs of this cancer, enlargement of the lymph nodes on the outside of the body due to malignant lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell — growing within the nodes. Maddy is still in remission after four years.

3. Mast Cell Tumor: The tiny packets of chemicals — histamine, heparin, and others — inside these mast cells are responsible for the redness, swelling, and stomach ulceration that is sometimes associated with this cancer.

Boomer, a bounding, 6-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever, was brought to see me because he developed a small, raised, reddish skin mass in his groin area. The mass was removed, and biopsy confirmed a mast cell tumor, the most common malignant skin tumor I diagnose. Boomer is still free of his cancer after six years.

4. Soft-Tissue Sarcoma: These sarcomas are cancerous growths of connective tissue — muscle, fat, cartilage, and various other cells — that typically grow as solitary masses, metastasizing infrequently.

Cody was our own beautiful, sweet Rottweiler who at 13 years old developed a mass on her left elbow that I diagnosed as a soft-tissue sarcoma. Despite treatment, Cody’s tumor did metastasize, and we lost her in 2008.

5. Osteosarcoma: Bone cancer which is most common in larger breeds, it often presents itself as lameness in the dog’s legs.

Bear, an amazing, courageous, and incredibly lucky Siberian Husky, was diagnosed at 11 years old with the most common bone tumor in large and giant breed dogs: osteosarcoma. Bear is still going strong after five years, but his journey reminds me of one of Shakespeare’s tragicomedies. Bear sailed through an amputation and chemotherapy with no problems, only to develop metastatic disease. Despite the odds, Bear’s family proceeded with more chemotherapy, and miraculously, Bear’s tumors shrank away to nothing. All of us celebrated for well over a year, when complications from the medications required the drug therapy be halted. Bear is a survivor; still enjoying life, he continues to trot alongside his family.

6. Mammary Cancer: This type of cancer is very common in female dogs, especially those who are not spayed. About 50 percent of these tumors are malignant, while the other 50 percent are benign.

Last but not least, Sassy, an adorable American Staffordshire Terrier with a distinctive bowlegged walk, was diagnosed with a small, firm mass in her right second mammary gland.. Sassy continues to chug along and be the matriarch of her “pack.”

Smokey, Maddy, Boomer, Cody, Bear, and Sassy symbolize the most common cancers diagnosed — melanoma, lymphoma, mast cell, soft-tissue sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and mammary cancer — and give us hope for pet and human cancer survivors.

GERALD POST, D.V.M., is a board-certified veterinary oncologist who oversees multiple practices in Connecticut and New York and serves on the board of the Animal Cancer Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer in both pets and people.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Gerald Post, D.V.M

Dover couple fighting to save Bruiser the dog

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Carl Hofmann found Bruiser in a York County SPCA kennel about seven years ago while he was killing time between work appointments.

Carl and Danielle Hofmann's pit bull Bruiser has lymphoma and requires chemotherapy.

He didn’t go in expecting to adopt a dog. But there was Bruiser, a skinny puppy, “all legs” and playful.

Hofmann reached through the metal bars to scratch Bruiser between the eyes.

“When I stopped petting him, he started crying,” Hofmann said. “And he wouldn’t stop crying.”

That was it. Carl went to the front desk and asked to adopt Bruiser.

Today, Bruiser is a laidback, affectionate pooch who sleeps with his parents in bed each night. He’s a big fan of food and visits from other canine friends and young children.

“He’s just a happy dog,” Hofmann said.

A few weeks ago, Hofmann’s wife, Danielle Hofmann, said she was rubbing Bruiser’s neck when she felt two golfball-sized lumps. Just a few days earlier, Danielle said, she’s sure there weren’t any lumps.

Carl and Danielle Hofmann play with their pit bull Bruiser at their Dover Township home Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The dog has lymphoma and requires chemotherapy. The two are being helped financially by the Magic Bullet Fund which solicits money for treatment of cancer-victim dogs. (Bill Kalina)

In July, a veterinarian diagnosed Bruiser with lymphoma.

“I thought a piece of my heart had been ripped out,” Danielle Hofmann said.

Lymphoma moves fast, the doctors said. But, if treated early enough, Bruiser could survive and live a healthy post-treatment life.

Carl Hofmann said he immediately began searching for treatment options. He discovered canine oncologists aren’t exactly easy to find.

“I was calling 30, 40 vets a day,” he said. “You hear cancer, the first thing you think is death. And losing him would kill me.”

Finally, they located an oncologist in Maryland who could treat Bruiser.

Bruiser had his first round of chemotherapy July 22 and his second round July 29. He’ll continue treatments once a week until November, with a few weeks off to rest.

Treatment is not cheap. Bruiser’s chemotherapy will cost about $3,000.

But the Hofmanns, who live in Dover, said they’re willing to do whatever it takes to save Bruiser. They’ve spent about $1,600 so far.

“I’ve cleared out my 401K,” Carl Hofmann said.

The couple, both 34, said they’ve been through their fair share of hard times – from job losses to medical issues.

But nothing compares to the pain of possibly losing Bruiser.

The Hofmanns began searching for help, and they found the Magic Bullet Fund – a nonprofit that provides fundraising assistance to families with dogs diagnosed with cancer.

The group donated $750 to kick off the online campaign, which ends Aug. 28.

So far, Bruiser seems to be doing well. He’s a bit more lethargic than usual, but he’s eating and using his outdoor bathroom.

Bruiser’s lost a little weight, but that’s normal. Besides, his parents said, Bruiser could stand to lose a few pounds.

Better yet, veterinarians believe Bruiser is responding well to the chemotherapy.

“I believe in miracles again,” Danielle said.

The couple said they worried whether their pleas for help would fall on deaf ears because Bruiser is a pit bull.

“They get such a bad rap,” Danielle said. “But he’s nothing but love.”

So far, the pit-bull stigma doesn’t seem to have mattered. Family members, friends and complete strangers have donated money to help the Hofmanns pay Bruiser’s medical bills.

News organizations responded quickly to a press release about Bruiser’s plight, something Danielle said she found hard to believe.

“I feel loved,” she said. “When it comes to animals and dogs, people just come out of nowhere.”

To help the Hofmanns, visit Donations are tax-deductible.

Story reposted from:

Written by: Erin James (The York Dispatch)

Veterinary researchers use nanoparticles to target cancer treatment in dogs and cats

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

When Michael and Sandra Friedlander first came to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine three years ago with their dog, Grayton, they learned some bad news: Grayton had nasal adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer with a short life expectancy.

(Dr. Shawna Klahn, an assistant professor of oncology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, performs a checkup on "Grayton" four weeks after the animal's experimental cancer treatment involving gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser therapy. Credit: Virginia Tech)

“Most dogs with this form of cancer are with their owners no more than a few months after the diagnosis, but here Grayton is three years later,” said Michael Friedlander, who is the executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and senior dean at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

No stranger to medical research, Friedlander was referred by Veterinary Teaching Hospital clinicians to an experimental treatment at the University of Florida called stereotactic radiation therapy, which delivers precise, high dosages of radiation to a tumor and can only be performed once.

“That shrunk the tumor down to almost nothing,” said Friedlander, who is also the associate provost for health sciences at Virginia Tech. “We knew when Grayton had the procedure that we couldn’t do it again, but now the cancer is back.”

Today, the 11-year-old Labradoodle is the first patient at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in a new clinical trial that is testing the use of gold nanoparticles and a targeted laser treatment for solid tumors in dogs and cats. The study is one of several on new treatments for client-owned companion animals at the college. In January, the college established the Veterinary Clinical Research Office to help facilitate this work.

“Clinical research at the veterinary college involves both primary research focused on advancing the treatment and diagnosis of veterinary diseases and translational research in which spontaneous diseases in animals can be used as models of human disease,” said Dr. Greg Daniel, head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. “In the latter situation, we can provide our companion animal patients with treatment and diagnostic options that are not yet available in mainstream human medicine.”

(Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, asks Dr. Shawna Klahn about the progress of his Labradoodle, Grayton. Credit: Virginia Tech)

Although medical researchers have tested gold nanoparticles with targeted laser treatments on human patients with some success, the treatment is still new to both human and veterinary medicine. The college is one of four current veterinary schools around the country testing the AuroLase therapy developed by Nanospectra Biosciences Inc., a startup company based in Houston, Texas. The others are Texas A&M University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Georgia.

Dr. Nick Dervisis, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, is leading the Nanospectra-funded study. Following a rhinoscopy performed on Grayton by Dr. David Grant, associate professor of internal medicine, Dervisis began the one-time, experimental therapy.

“The treatment involves two phases,” Dervisis said. “First, we infuse the patient with the gold nanoparticles. Although the nanoparticles distribute throughout the body, they tend to concentrate around blood vessels associated with tumors. Within 36 hours, they have cleared the bloodstream except for tumors. The gold nanoparticles are small enough to circulate freely in the bloodstream and become temporarily captured within the incomplete blood vessel walls common in solid tumors. Then, we use a non-ablative laser on the patient.”

Dervisis explained that a non-ablative laser is not strong enough to harm the skin or normal tissue, but “it does cause the remaining nanoparticles to absorb the laser energy and convert it into heat so that they damage the tumor cells.”

Like all clinical trials, the study involves many unknowns, including the treatment’s usefulness and effectiveness. One month after the AuroLase treatment, the nosebleeds that initially brought Grayton back to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital had stopped and Grayton has no other side effects.

“I’m delighted with the care and service that Grayton has received at the veterinary college,” said Friedlander, who explained that the treatment appears to be safe even though researchers do not know whether it is effective yet. “Grayton recently came with us on our annual vacation at the beach. We didn’t know if he would be able to come again, so it was great to have him with us swimming, catching fish and crabs, and doing what dogs do.”

Current clinical trials at the veterinary college range from the use of MRI to distinguish between benign and cancerous lymph nodes in dogs with oral melanoma, to a new chemotherapy drug for dogs with brain tumors, to the treatment of invasive skin cancer in horses with high-voltage, high-frequency electrical pulses.

Mindy Quigley, who oversees the college’s Veterinary Clinical Research Office, explained that veterinary trials, which follow a four-phase process and a variety of regulations similar to human medicine, have another layer of complexity that human trials do not.

“Variation among species means that a therapy that has proven safe and effective in, for example, humans or dogs, may not work for horses,” said Quigley, who comes to the college from the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, where she helped set up a new neurology research clinic with funding from author J.K. Rowling. “Many veterinary clinical trials must therefore take therapies that have worked in one species and test them in other species with similar conditions. This is a necessary step to determine if a proposed treatment is safe and effective for our companion animals.”

News reposted from:

Provided by: Virginia Tech