Many dogs afflicted with cancer face a surgery. In spite of how far we have come in medical science, our most reliable way of getting rid of canine cancer is still a bit old fashioned: cut it out.
Indeed, most of the time surgical removal is the treatment of choice for tumor cure in the dog.
This may be a bit of a surprise to many dog lovers. One of the reasons for this surprise is that we have a difference between veterinary medicine and human medicine that should be appreciated.
In human medicine, we can sometimes rely on chemotherapy, radiation, or other non-surgical treatments to yield a cure for cancer, or something close to it.
This is is contrast to dogs however. In veterinary medicine, tools like radiation and chemotherapy, or newer conventional techniques like cancer vaccines, open-cell polylactic acid polymer placement, samarium treatment, stereotactic radiotherapy, brachytherapy…the list goes on…all of these are aimed at palliation.
Palliation is defined as a reduction in the signs and symptoms of a disease. The word comes from the Latin palliare, which means, “to cloak”.
So when we are talking about all of these treatments for cancer, none of them, at least not now, are capable of cancer cure for the aggressive cancers. And it is the aggressive cancers that are the ones treated with all of these advanced techniques, or vanilla chemo and radiation.
Which puts us in a bit of a bind, since we do see, from time to time, heavy-duty side effects in some dogs. All for palliation, but no cure.
All except surgery.
If your vet is talking about surgery for your loved canine companion’s tumor surgery, listen up. It may be the only way for a true cure. Most of these surgeries, if done by a skilled practitioner, turn out very well.
Our four (or sometimes three) legged friends are up and going again with tails wagging in a short time.
For more details on dog cancer surgery and things to watch out for, check out the dog cancer book at http://dogcancersurvival.com .