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Finding Clinical Trials For Your Dog

In veterinary clinical oncology, we use clinical trials to test new chemotherapeutics for efficacy, compare new treatments to the current "standard of care", and to test new procedures.

In some cases we are testing to determine if a treatment is safe, in other cases we are testing to determine if a treatment is effective (does it help dogs live longer than if they're not treated?), and in other cases we're testing to determine if the new treatment is better than our current "best" treatment for a certain type of cancer.

Where Are Trials Conducted?
Clinical trials are typically conducted at a veterinary teaching hospital and are funded by competitive grants that the researcher (investigator) must apply for. In some cases, private practices may also participate in studies, or a study may involve many academic and private practices (in order to collect as many cases as possible). 

Note: Participating in a clinical trial typically involves traveling to your nearest veterinary...

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The Resource Vet Oncologists Turn To For The Latest Information

When a veterinary oncologist is evaluating treatment options for a particular patient, we use information published in peer-reviewed scientific journals whenever possible.

It's important to make treatment decisions (as well as to give clients estimates of how long their dog will live) based on published studies. These studies are significantly more reliable than our experience of having (for example) one dog do incredibly well with treatment "x" or live very long with treatment "y".

There are always going to be outliers (dogs that live much longer or much shorter with a particular disease and particular treatment than average). There are many factors at play, including, some dogs have more aggressive forms of cancer than others.

Information Has A Different Value Depending On The Source
When we're choosing which type of information to rely on in veterinary oncology, (in general) prospective randomized trials are considered best, then retrospective studies, and far down on the...

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Pet Insurance - Is It For You?

Have you been faced with a situation in which you couldn't afford a surgery or treatment that you knew would help your dog? I'm sure that most of us have.

The answer to this situation could be pet insurance. There are quite a few excellent pet insurance companies out there. When pet parents that have a good insurance plan are faced with a major treatment decision, they can focus on which treatment they think is best, without factoring money into the equation. How nice is that?

The most important thing to know about pet insurance companies is that they do not cover pre-existing conditions. So if your dog is diagnosed with cancer, that would not be a good time to decide to get insurance, because it wouldn't be covered (if pre-existing conditions were covered, it would make pet insurance much more expensive for everyone).

A pre-existing condition is considered to have started once your dog developed signs. So if he had signs of a disease for 6 months, but you got insurance 1...

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A Second Opinion Never Hurts

Cancer is incredibly common in dogs these days. More than 50% of dogs over 10 years of age will develop cancer. The dogs that do the best, despite having cancer, are those that are diagnosed quickly, accurately, and receive the most successful treatment for their particular cancer. 

In many cases, in order to understand a patient's cancer well enough to recommend the best treatment, it involves using diagnostic tools that aren't available in most small animal clinics (such as CT and ultrasound).

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer and you want to give him the best chance at living as long as possible, my advice is to see an oncologist. 

An oncologist has access to all of the latest research in veterinary oncology. We know about new treatments that your regular veterinarian may not.

There are some general practitioners that excel in oncology because they really enjoy it, so they're constantly staying on top of new information. You are very lucky if you have one...

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Canine Nasal Cancer - Everything You Need To Know

This article is all about canine nasal tumors. As you'll learn, this is a type of cancer for which we've recently discovered a successful "new" treatment. This treatment is more successful and easier for patients than previous treatments, which is excellent. The treatment is not inexpensive, so another reason to have a comprehensive insurance plan for your dog. 

Which Dogs Are Most Likely To Develop Nasal Cancer?
The average age of affected dogs is about 10 years, however dogs as young as 9 months have been reported.  Long-nosed breeds (dolichocephalic) or dogs living in urban environments (filtering environmental pollutants through their nasal passages) are thought to be at a higher risk for developing nasal cancer. Exposure to second hand smoke increased the risk of developing nasal cancer in dogs in one study (not all studies support this). Exposure to indoor coal or kerosene heaters may also increase the risk of nasal cancer in dogs.

Which Types of Nasal Cancer Are Most...

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All About Canine Histiocytic Sarcoma

There are many types of histiocytic diseases. Some are benign cancers, some are malignant, and some are not neoplastic (cancer) at all. This article will focus on the three types of malignant histiocytic diseases: disseminated histiocytic sarcoma, localized histiocytic sarcoma, and hemophagocytic histiocytic sarcoma. 

Disseminated Histiocytic Sarcoma

Who Is At Risk
: The average age of onset for this form of histiocytic sarcoma (HS) is 8 years. Twenty-five percent of all Bernese Mountain dogs will develop this form of HS. In fact, one study of 800 Bernese Mountain dogs revealed an oligogenic mode of inheritance (more than one gene controls inheritance) with 78% of dogs with HS having relatives with HS and 40% of affected dogs having a relative with a different type of cancer. Rottweilers are also more likely to develop HS than other breeds. 

Signs of Disseminated HS: Signs of this disease are usually non-specific and include anorexia, lethargy and weight loss. This is...

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All About Canine Lung Tumors

This article is all about lung cancer in dogs. We'll cover which dogs are more likely to develop lung cancer, the signs of lung cancer, types of cancer that affect the lungs, how we determine primary vs metastatic lung cancer, the recommended work-up, as well as treatment options.

Which Dogs Develop Lung Cancer (Pulmonary Neoplasia)?
The average age of dogs diagnosed with primary lung tumors (lung tumors that start in the lungs) is approximately 11 years. Breeds that might be at increased risk include: Boxer, Doberman, Australian shepherd, Irish setter, Bernese Mountain dog.

Second-hand smoke and urban living are thought to be potential causes of lung cancer in dogs. 

An increased risk of lung cancer was noted in dogs with increased amounts of anthracosis (increased carbon in the lungs due to increased exposure to polluted air or inhalation of smoke or coal dust particles), which suggests a link between the development of lung cancer and the inhalation of polluted air. An...

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Canine Bladder Cancer - Everything A Dog Owner Should Know

Urinary bladder cancer accounts for approximately 2% of all reported malignant cancers in the dog. The most common type of bladder cancer is TCC (transitional cell carcinoma), however, we can also see squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, undifferentiated carcinoma, hemangiosarcoma, etc. 

TCC is most commonly located in the trigone region of the bladder (see image courtesy of Vet Surgery Central). It can also involve the urethra or the prostate (if the patient is male). Due to the location of the tumor, it can cause partial or complete urinary obstruction, making it difficult or impossible to urinate. 

Proper initial work up not only includes an accurate diagnosis and full blood work, but also 3-view chest x-rays and full abdominal ultrasound to determine if cancer has metastasized. Metastasis will affect which treatment options are reasonable for the patient. 

Which Dogs Develop Bladder Cancer?

Risk factors include female sex, obesity, lawn...

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Feeling Overwhelmed About Your Dog's Cancer Diagnosis?

Having a dog diagnosed with cancer is very scary and can be very overwhelming. After hearing your vet say the word "cancer" your mind may have gone blank and you might have forgotten everything else said during the visit. Your mind may have wandered to thoughts about your dog feeling painful, suffering, wondering if you were going to lose him, or to wondering how you would manage to live without him. 

Hearing the word 'cancer' may have also brought back all-too-recent memories of family members or close friends with cancer and the agony of watching them go through severe nausea and discomfort during treatment, or the pain that they experienced towards the end.

If you've experienced chemotherapy or radiation treatments, you may be thinking 'there's no way I'm going to put my dog through that'. 

All of these are very common thoughts and feelings that I see clients experience on a daily basis.

The good news is that veterinary oncology is VERY different...

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Why Do So Many Dogs Develop Cancer?

Cancer is common in dogs. Atleast 50% of dogs over 10 will die from cancer. If we can make an early diagnosis and treat cancer appropriately, we can change the course for many patients who would have otherwise passed due to cancer.

So why do they develop cancer in the first place?

In veterinary oncology, we typically study "risk factors" for each type of cancer. A risk factor is something that increases the likelihood that a dog will develop a certain type of cancer. 

It is very difficult to study risk factors in dogs and in people. There are so many different genetic and environmental factors that can influence the development of cancer; reliably teasing out which ones led to cancer in a single patient is incredibly difficult (and expensive).

In order to be successful, researchers typically have to study a certain patient population (ex. thousands of golden retrievers) over their entire lifetime (puppy to death) and have excellent owner compliance (participate in all of...

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