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Paraneoplastic Syndromes & An Early Cancer Diagnosis (Part 1)

What is a paraneoplastic syndrome? This is a group of incredibly varied neoplasia or cancer-associated changes that can occur in a patient distant to the actual tumor. 

In many cases, the paraneoplastic syndrome (PNS) is the first sign of the cancer, so being able to recognize it can lead to an early diagnosis (and better outcome). 

In many cases, the PNS will parallel the underlying cancer. So if the underlying cancer is in remission, the PNS will resolve. If we later see return of the PNS, we will likely find return of the cancer on further investigation as well. PNS can be very helpful in monitoring the remission status of a patient. 

In many cases, the PNS can be more life threatening than the underlying cancer itself, so recognizing the PNS and obtaining a timely diagnosis (what cancer is present) is critical. 

In this article, I will address the most common PNS that we see in veterinary oncology; there are far too many to cover in one...

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5 Nutrition Tips For Dogs With Cancer

I recently interviewed a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. She shared all of her advice on what we should be feeding dogs with cancer. She provided a wealth of information and resources over the hour-long interview. For the purposes of this article, I will share the top five tips that you can focus on as a dog owner.

If you have questions, as usual, please reach out. Or better yet, consider either an in-person or remote consultation with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist!

Alright, so first things first. What is a veterinary nutritionist? Well, just like a veterinary oncologist, they are specialists (experts) in the field of veterinary nutrition. They have completed four years of veterinary school, a one-year rotating internship, then either a two or three year residency in veterinary nutrition. They have also passed rigorous board certification exams. 

How do you know if someone is a veterinary nutritionist? This is important. Not everyone giving nutrition advice is...

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Search All Canine Cancer Academy Articles Here!

I've published quite a few articles since January 2019 and want to make it easier to find what you're looking for (quickly). 

Below you'll find links to each article, separated by topic. I hope you find it helpful!

This post will be permanently located on the right sidebar of the Canine Cancer Academy blog page for easy reference!


CANCER DEFINITIONS

1. Help! What Are They Talking About (Part 1)
2. Help! What Are They Talking About (Part 2)
3. Help! What Are They Talking About (Part 3)

QUALITY OF LIFE

1. How to Tell if Your Dog is Nauseous
2. How To Treat Nausea In Dogs
3. Is Humane Euthanasia Humane?
4. How To Assess Pain and Quality of Life in a Dog with Cancer
5. 5 Tips For A Quick Recovery After Your Dog's Surgery
6. Is Cancer In Dogs Painful?
7. Pledge From The Heart - A Promise To Prevent Suffering
8. Possible Chemo Side Effects & How To Help Your Dog Avoid Them


VISITING THE ONCOLOGIST

1. What is a Veterinary Specialist...

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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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