Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
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New treatment for Dogs with Melanoma

Chalk up a win for the Animal Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering.  These two medical facilities have teamed up with Merial, one of the major companies producing drugs for dogs.

They came up with a winner: a vaccination for dogs that have malignant melanoma, a type of cancer of the skin or mouth.

This is not a vaccine that is used to protect from cancer.  The word vaccine is a bit vague, because in common use this is something that is given in order to protect from a disease.

This vaccine is used only after a dog is diagnosed with melanoma.

Melanoma in dogs has different grades (some are more aggressive than others) and different stages (some have spread farther than others).

The usual stats are pretty dismal for the high grade melanomas, especially of the mouth or on the toes.  Even with standard conventional care, these have a median survival of 2-4 months at worst, and about 5 months or so at best (remember, not every dog follows these stats).

The nice thing about this melanoma vaccine is that it has been shown to triple survival times.  Not too shabby!

The vaccination just got conditional approval by the USDA last May and may be available through an veterinary oncologist near you.

Best to all,

Dr D

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM


Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the "dog cancer vet" and is author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity. Visit his blog and sign up free to get the latest information about canine cancer. Go to http://DogCancerBlog.com.

  • Helen Chamberlain

    Dr Dressler.
    Not relative to the above topic I know…
    But do you have any information on Leiomyosarcoma? I now know this is the type of cancer Spanner has – quite rare by all accounts.

    She is still with me – just. We got a vitamin and painkilling injection 2 days ago so we could visit her beach one more time. She had a great time & even ate (although it was JUNK food!) She will probably pass this weekend, but we have made the most of her time left.

    Best regards

    Helen & Spanner

    • Alex

      @ Bob Irwin & anyone else who can help
      We have a Scottish Terrier who was recently diagnosed with melanoma. Yesterday he’s been through surgery since the tumor was creating already discomfort when eating/breathing. We also did echo and RX scans and fortunately there are no signs of further disseminations.
      The problem is I live in Romania so I need to find a way to get the vaccine to Europe. Can you please share a contact from the clinic where you are treating your dog? Any info can be helpful, thank you.

      Kind regards,
      Alex

  • Helen Chamberlain

    Spanner was put to sleep tonight. 7/12/08

    I will miss her so dearly. I’m not ashamed to say she was my world.

    • Maria

      Dr. Dressler,

      Just wanted to share some of my good news with you. My little Sadie went for her 60 day check-up at the University of Wisconsin on 12/27/10. It’s been 60 days since her final radiation and ONCEPT Vaccine treatment. According to her oncologists, the Oral Melanoma has not come back, and there’s no signs of any cancer having yet spread elsewhere in her little body. This wonderfully good news was the BEST Christmas present I could have ever expected!!! The irony is that on 12/28/10, I came down with a very bad and very painful case of the SHINGLES!

      I hope that everyone out there who reads this blog will have a very happy new year with healthy and loving pets.

      Thanks,
      Maria & Sadie

      • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

        Dear Maria
        That’s great!! (your dog, not your shingles!!)
        Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to you both,
        Best,
        D

        • Trish & Grizz

          We received a malignant melanoma diagnosis for our nearly 13 year-old male Chow mix on March 21st (similar to the post above!). It is at the back of his tongue and was found when we took him in for a dental cleaning. He has a 2-3cm tumor intermediate grade (M=14). From what blood and radiographs show, it has not spread yet. He has great energy and acting normally in general. We are thinking about moving forward with a debulking operation as he is starting to cough a bit when he eats. However, I read that the vaccine doesn’t always work well on “bulky” tumors. Any thoughts on if we should proceed with it?

          • Dr. Demian Dressler

            Dear Trish and Grizz
            Sorry about this bad news. Larger tumors are usually harder to deal with using all the tools, not just the melanoma vaccine. First, you need to have a clear understanding that a large oral melanoma usually has spread:
            http://dogcancerblog.com/dog-cancer-what-is-micrometastasis-and-why-do-we-care/
            So I would be responding from this position and hit this aggressively. You need to use all the tools in the toolbox assuming you have completed your treatment plan analysis:
            waveco.com/dog-cancer-what-is-micrometastasis-and-why-do-we-care/
            If you have not spend a little time reading the Guide to ascertain all the different tools you have access to for dealing with cancer in dogs I think it would be a very wise investment of time and a few bucks.
            Best,
            Dr D

  • Dr. Dressler

    Dear Helen,
    I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you on this sad day.
    D

  • Cindy Deloy

    Hi

    Can my vet get this vaccine? Miss Marley had a oral melanoma, and just had is removed 1/23/09. She is very perky, and would like to try this ES Claer and Nu Vet Vitamins.

    • Dr. Dressler

      Cindy, have your vet contact the nearest veterinary oncologist. Print out the blog post/links for reference for him/her so your vet knows what you are speaking of. Good luck,
      D

  • FunnyBoscar

    Hi,

    My Cocker spaniel dog Boscar, age ~9 years. He has heart murmur for
    about 5 years and has melanoma in his mouth. The melanoma was
    detected in Aug.2007. Since then he had surgery, Cancer vaccine,
    Chemo and now we are giving just painkiller. I also asked vet to
    give some sleep aid (Which he is not started on yet)

    Below is the summary of the main events:

    Aug 2007 – In a routine exam, vet saw a mass growth in his mouth (remember he did not refer/know it was cancerious) and suggested to
    remove the so called mass of tissues. Which was removed(or scrapped off as told by vet) the next day (Also, Vet did not sent the mass to the pathologist) – Cost of the surgery – Approx. $800

    Feb.2008 – While giving his arthritis medication, i noticed similar
    mass of tissue in the same area. Immidiately called Doctor,got
    appointment next day and scheduled surgery 3 days later –
    Cost of the surgery – Approx. $800

    The second time doctor told us that he did not expect that mass will grow so fast (remember he did not know that it can be cancerious)
    and he send that mass to pathologist. 3 days later we were informed that he has melanoma, a kind of cancer. He referred us to oncology
    specialist(nearly 25 miles from our home).
    Since we saw our neighbours dog had cance and it is alive even after 6 years, we did not think/told it is of aggressive kind.

    fEB 2008 – Less than a week after the second surgery, We took Boscar to the oncology speciality vet, there they did some blood work,
    x-ray,…etc (COST – approx.$900). Then a surgery was scheduled/then
    was done for removng left upper jaw(COST- $3500)

    After the (Jaw removal) surgery, Vet suggested to give the Cancer vaccine to increase the survival chance.These cancer vaccine was
    given once every 15 days for 2 months (4 shots). The cost of each
    vaccine was $450. (Later i saw in the internet, cost of each shot
    is 250$).The vaccine was started from march – may(COST= 450*4 = $1800)

    Sep 2008 – After our trip from abroad for a month (Boscar was in our home and a friend stayed and took care of him), we took Boscar for a
    routine checkup. They did some x-rays, blood work etc.
    This time they told us that the cancer has spread to his lungs and that we need to give him chemo. If we give the chemo also, the vet said he would survive less than 6 months.So, the chemo was stated in Sep. (COST of x-rays, blood work,chemo…= $996 )

    Oct 2008 : Chemo therapy, blood work. (COST – approx. $550 )

    Nov 2008 : Chemo therapy, blood work,x-ray (COST – approx. $900 )

    We were told by a rescue worker, from whom we adopted Boscar
    that chemo is very painful for the dog to go through and it is not
    worth. We heard similar things from my husband’s coworkers also.
    That made us to stop the chemo therapy and look into some thing
    different and another reason is, because the side effect of chemo
    is heart failure, kidney failure etc. Since Boscar had already heart
    murmur, i was afraid he might die while receiving chemo.

    One article told that they started MSM+ riboxy + curcumin for the
    cancer from health food store. We bought those things and started
    giving them to Boscar. Since curcumin is concentrated antioxident,
    also since Boscar had heart murmur, i was afraid he might get stroke.
    So I stopped curcumin and started giving only riboxy +MSM.

    Dec. 2008 – Since it was difficult for us to commute 25 miles to vet (for health reasons, i don’t drive in freeway), as my husband had meetings, work pressure and so, we decided to go to a very good fecility around 12 miles from our home. (So that i could drive in the city street). During Dec. we gave boscar pain medication and was doing ok. The monthly vet bill dropped from approx $1000 to $350.

    Jan. 2008:
    Jan.19th – The Vet is so amazed about Boscar being active, his energy and his weight is constant between 27-30 pounds. He told us, if cancer is progressing, the first thing is, he looses his weight.

    Jan.25th – Boscar is becomming weak. I think it might be his heart not cancer. Yesterday, (Jan 27th) i took him to the park couple of
    blocks away(temp was 62F).He was ok while going but it was very
    difficult for him to walk back to home. He had to take many stops.
    He is getting tired and tired. Every time he looks at me I just say “its OK BOscar. Everything will be alright?” I am so scared.
    Today he vommitted entire thing.

    I DO NOT WANT TO PUT HIM TO SLEEP. Who am I to take his life ? After all, he was with us all these years, taught us to love walking, enjoy
    things, got sad when me and my husband fought, was always protective
    of me.Never let a stranger come near me.

    I Hope Boscar feels OK. I pray GOD to make sure my baby do not suffer
    much. He is such a good boy. Not a single mean bone in his body.
    OH !! Boscar, Do you know how much I love you?

    • Dr. Dressler

      I wish you the very best tonight. I can see how much you love Boscar. You might want to get my coping guide, which has helped people in similar situations. It is okay for you to follow what you feel is right for your dog, you are allowed to be his primary health advocate, nobody else. Tell him his life story, from start to finish. Tell him everything you are thankful for that he has given to you over all these years.
      Now is the time for you to give back to him. Make sure you take the time to do it.
      D

  • Maria

    The University of Wisconsin’s vaccine for Oral Melanoma is only $350 per injection which includes everything. There are 4 biweekly shots & a booster shot 6 months thereafter. Also, I received a substantial $ credit towards my bill via my authorization for the hospital to use dog’s melanoma tumor, urine & blood samples, and catscans for further melanoma research in their research labs. I of course said yes, not just to reduced my cost/bill, but mostly because I would like my distressing situation to possibly help them in finding a cure to this fatal cancer. As I previously mentioned, they are wonderful, caring, and top rated physicians.

    Correction – My little dachsund has Stage III Oral Melanoma (not Stage II as I previously mentioned). They removed her left jaw with no deformity at all! You can’t even tell that she’s had any surgery. The surgeons at University of Wisconsin are phenomenal. She’s already had her first of four radiation treatments, as well as her first vaccination. So far, she seems normal and happy as a lark, is eating like a little pig (especially McDonalds cheeseburgers) and is chasing squirrels once again. I cherish each and every day that I see her like this, but cry when I realize that it may all suddenly come to an end any day.

    Has anybody had a dog with Stage III Oral Melanoma? If so, can you share with me your experience, and give me a realistic idea as to what I can expect with regards to her possible lifespan (5 – 9 months, 1 – 3 years, etc.)?

    Thanks,
    Maria

    • Laura Weinstein

      I have a 11 & 1/2 yr old boxer Harley. I live in New Orleans, LA. A tumor was discovered way, way back on Harley’s tongue. He has had 2 biopsies, the first of which the pathologist concluded the tumor was liposarcoma. As my vet and a local oncologist found this conclusion questionable, they suggested I go to LSU Veterinary School. They did their own biopsy and concluded it is either a liposarcoma, granular cell tumor or melanoma, or some other soft tissue sarcoma. No grading was provided. The mitotic rate was 4. The tumor is rather large (4 cm.) and cannot be surgically removed unless entire tongue is removed (I don’t want to do that!). We had 2 round of radiation, but to my disappointment upon going to LSU for 3rd round this past Monday 1/3/11, I was told the tumor has grown about 1/2 cm. They expect this will lead to Harley’s breathing being obstructed and at that point suggest euthanizing him. I am continuing prednisone and antibiotics. I feel so helpless as I’ve never gotten a solid answer on what type of cancer this is and furthermore pretty much have been told all alternatives have been exhausted. I’ve read for hours, days and have found so much regarding supplements, vaccines, etc. but question why no vet who I’ve consulted with has mentioned any of this. I am willing to travel wherever I need to if there is help. Any thoughts on whether this vaccine can help Harley? Thank you so much.

      • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

        Dear Laura,
        so sorry for this frustrating situation. The melanoma vaccine has had good successes with melanoma, and if this is on the list, I would consider it if you are at the end of the road with options. The side effects are very minimal and there is good upside.
        Have you read the Guide? There is a lot that can be done in the arena, of diet, immune stimulation, Apocaps (click here), other supplements, and more that I use in my patients. It is an easy read.
        Best,
        Dr D

  • Maria

    Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you SO much! Better understanding the basis of how the MST numbers are determined has truly helped me emotionally. No one had ever explained or appropriately defined the MST statistics to me. I simply assumed that the MST was calculated via a black & white “Straight Average,” painting a very grim survival time with almost no room for fluctuation and/or hope. Having once been a Math Major in college, I can now at least hope that my little Sadie will fall within the wider range of the “Right Skewed MST Distribution,” and therefore possibly live much longer than the 6 to 9 month MST statistic she was tagged with. She’s a little fighter, and if anyone can do it, she will! I won’t lose sight of reality, but I’ll now at least be able to take a stronger grasp on hope.

    FYI – I’ve recently found several new articles on the internet (April – Sept 2010) saying that now with the addition of Oncept Vaccines to local control, the most recent clinical statistics have shown that the survival time for dogs with Stages II and III melanoma has increased to greater than 2.5 years (originally less than 6 mos.). Do you have an opinion on that?

    Thanks Again,
    Maria

  • Maria

    Alex,

    I would highly recommend that you contact the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Madison Wisconsin. They are one of the top and most well-known Animal Oncology Research Hospitals in the country. I’ve been told that their clinic receives more research grants for cancer, etc., than any other veterinary facility in the country. They’ve been treating my little dog for Oral Melanoma since August 2009. Thus far, the ONCEPT Vaccine along with radiation treatments has worked successfully (see info in my previous postings). She’s well and alive, even though back in August my vet in Chicago only gave her 1 to 3 months to live.

    I suggest that you contact Dr. RuthAnne Chun at the University. She along with a Dr. Vail are Professors of Oncology and together run the entire Animal Oncology Department. She’s compassionate and brilliant. The medical faculty at the University of Wisconsin’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is huge with dozens of doctors and medical school residents from all over the world, possibly even Romania. Universities frequently “Share” their research and treatments with other countries. Therefore, I strongly suggest that first try calling the U of W for information on how and where to get the ONCEPT Vaccine in Romania.

    The following website will link you directly to background information on their impressive Oncololy medical staff:

    http://uwveterinarycare.wisc.edu/small-animal/cats-and-dogs/oncology/

    Again, I highly recommend that you first try contacting Dr. RutheAnn Chun. The phone number at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital is 608-263-7600.

    Good Luck,
    Maria

  • Lilian

    Hi, Dr. Dressler,

    my dog Joyee got Amelanotic Melanoma, he had been eating well and we try to give him soft food. but lately I found that his mouth had really bleed a lot, and it made his mouth had really bad smell, I had try to use wet towel and dog dental water to wash his mouth and teeth, do you have any other way that can make him feel better?

    thank you,
    Lilian

  • Larry

    @ Bob Irwin,

    Did you ever figure out the answer to your question re: prednisone and the melanoma vaccine? We are facing a similar situation, utilizing the melanoma vaccine to beat back progress of the disease but also needing (been prescribed) to use pred. for a different need. I would appreciate hearing anything that you have learned!

  • Sherry Martinez

    I have an St Bernard and today had found out she has melanoma :(….She is my everything, i found out she had the cancer too late doctor said she has maybe 6weeks left which just tore me apart…im trying everything and been searching online for hours and hours for info and i was wondering would your Drug help out my dog ? She has problems breathing and drools everywhere but worst thing is she does not want too eat if so its tortillas.So plz get back too me !

    Thanks

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Sherry,
      I think you are talking about Apocaps? If so, it is a supplement which is designed to increase the turnover of cells so that more normal cells and less deranged cells are in the body. It may help but it is not a cure for cancer. Have you considered an oncologist visit? The melanoma vaccine? There are also other steps and supplements in the Guide that might help too.
      I hope this helps a little,
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Maria

    Dr. Dressler,

    My little Sadie had her 120 day check-up this week at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital. She finished her series of Oncept Vaccines and radiation treatments last October 2010. The great news is that so far the melanoma has NOT returned in her mouth/jaw, nor has it spread anywhere else in her body. I’m not losing sight of reality, but to me this has been like an unbelievable miracle considering that my local vet only gave her 1 month to live. I have to take her back to U of W in April for her 6 month Oncept booster shot. I highly recommend this vaccine to any pet-owners with dogs suffering from oral melanoma. There were absolutely no side-effects whatsoever.

    I do have an important question for you. Would you recommend that I now start giving her Apocaps to further boost her immune system? As I said, she completed her Oncept Vaccines 4 months ago. Would it be safe and beneficial for me to further supplement her health with Apocaps? If there’s anything else in addition to Apocaps that you’d recommend please tell me.

    Thanks,
    Maria

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Maria
      In my practice we would use Apocaps, more for the apoptosis effect than the immune boosting effect. Have you read the Guide? Also consider beta glucans (K-9 Immunity and transfer factor) and some omega-3′s, among other things. The dog cancer diet is a good choice too in my opinion (free download on top of this site page. Remember that all steps should be done under veterinary supervision too…
      Best,
      Dr D

      • Trish & Grizz

        Thank you so much for your response. Radiographs and blood work is showing positive signs of it not having spread yet, but I am aware of micrometastasis, and am taking these test results with a grain of salt. The excision of the tumor went well – the surgeon was extremely pleased at his ability to remove it. We are going to recheck the surgical site (tongue) in two weeks and then likely start the vaccine since they feel it is his best option. One last question if I may – do you recommend spending money for a CT scan to understand if there has been an undetectable spread? Or do you treat and hope for the best?

        Thanks again for all the great information – I’ll definitely pick up a copy of your Guide.

    • Maria

      Pat,

      I have a 13 year old miniature daschound who was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma. Her tumor was 3cm in size. My local vet (in Chicago) gave her only 1 month to live. I took her to the University of Wisconsin in Madison WI. It’s one of the best Veterninary Teaching Schools in the country and are very well-known for their Oncology reasearch. She had a full mandibulectomy, and she also had her lower jaw and cheek bone removed (all the wat up to her eye socket), with VERY narrow margins. Believe it or not, two days later she was totally fine, eating like a little pig and playing as if nothing had happened! Visually, you can’t even tell that she’s missing her jaw, mandibul, and cheek bone. I was told by the head of the univerity’s surgical department who did the surgery himself (Dr. McNaulty – the surgery ook 5 hrs.) that a jaw removal on a dog was not at all uncommon, or as scary as it sounded. He compared it to a root canal on a person. He was totally right. After the surgery my dog had 4 precautionary radiation treatments, along with the ONCEPT vaccine. The great news is that it’s been 22 months and the cancer has NOT returned!!! The surgery and ONCEPT vaccine saved her life. I’m so thankful that Dr. McNaulty and Dr. Chun reassured me to go through with the surgery and treatment, even though she had stage III melanoma that had spread into her jaw, mandibal, and cheek bones. I realize that treatment doesn’t always work. However, sometimes it DOES work! Based on the most recent clinic result statistics published Dr. Berger (founder of ONCEPT vaccine), appromimately 50% of all Stage I melanoma dogs and 25% of Stage II and II melanoma dogs are still living 3 years after treatment!!! If you love your dog as much as I love mine, then I highly recommend that you do follow through with the mandibulectomy, radiation, and vaccine. My dog s uffered absolutely NO side affects from anything, the surgery was NOT that big of a deal, and most importantly she is still alive and happy. There was only one negative thing. It took my little doge a couple of weeks to figure out a new way to eat her soft dogfood. For 2 weeks after her surgery I was cleaning up a lot of dogfood off the floor because it was squirty out of the left side of her mouth because she didn’t have a jaw to keep it in her mouth! Good luck and keep me posted.

      Maria

  • brian fleming

    Last thurs. had a mass cut out of my lab’s mouth, it came back as melanoma, what is the cost of the vaccine treatment? also does this cure it or just hold it at bay, and in reality are you just buying time? We are in no finicial way to afford bigtime cost treatments, but I must say I have to figure a way, my family is torn apart, we love this guy tremendously and my 10 and 6 year old are taking it really hard as well as me, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    The Fleming Family

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Fleming Family,
      I am sorry to hear this news. The vaccine cost varies depending on location and you need to do the research locally with an oncologist as there is no set fee I can quote you. It does good though- it is safe and if you look at the group of dogs receiving the vaccine it increases the survival time (as a group) by about three times. It does not cure cancer though.
      I might suggest you check out the Guide- it can help you in difficult times-
      Best
      D

  • Cheryl

    Our pomeranian was just diagnosed with amelanotic melenoma. It is attached to the eyelid of the left eye. Would the vaccine help his survival rate? The vet is going to try to surgically remove the mass tomorrow. Please let us know, we are really struggling with this diagnosis.

    Sincerely,

    Cheryl

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Cheryl,
      The research covering the vaccine was with pigmented melanoma, so we have to guess. The enzyme that the vaccine uses to target is reduced in amelanotic melanoma by about half. This means that the efficacy likely will be less in amelanotic melanoma, but I feel it would still help. Wait for the biopsy though to help with the anticipated behavior and the need for further steps.
      I would consult with an oncologist about it (few vets can get it) and don’t forget your other steps, including diet, apoptogens, immune support, brain chemistry modification, and anti metastatic therapies…
      Best,
      Dr D

  • georgia

    I ‘d like to ask you, if you know any veterinarian specialised in cancer ,practicing his profession in GREECE. if so please , if you are so kind to send me his contact information.
    Best regards
    Georgia-(greece)

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Georgia,
      try this: click here for the veterinary school at the Aristotle University.
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Joe Winters

    My dog poppy was put to sleep yesterday, 31/05/11 he was 13. White with brindle, shortcoat staffordshire cross bull terrier. He had Melanoma. I made the choice of putting him to sleep after months of tryin to avoid i., He was n agony n I no longer wanted him to suffer. traumatic experience for the kids n myself but weve lived through it, had happy times with our beloved pop pop, Considered we are going to get another pet to enjoy many years to come, but will not take th place of our boy poppy.. time to write new history with our new dog to be.

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Joe,
      our thoughts are with you during this hard time.
      Best,
      Dr D

  • Maria

    Dr. Dressler,

    I just wanted to give you an update on my little Sadie – Good News! She recently had her 1 year check-up and there’s NO evidence of cancer! If you recall, my miniature dachshound was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma in July 2011 with only 1 month to live. The cancer had severely spread throughout her jaw and cheekbone. The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital removed her jaw, and she had 4 radiation treatments along with the miracle ONCEPT Vaccine. Happily, the melanoma in her mouth and jaw has not returned and appears to be localized. To-date the cancer hasn’t spread to her lungs or any other parts of her body. She is happy once again, full of energy and love, and eats like a little pig! She’s plays with my other two dogs just like she’d never been sick at all!

    Have you seen Dr. Bergmans most recently published 2011 clinical study results based on a group of 58 dogs suffering from Stages I – IV Oral Melanoma being treated with the ONCEPT VACCINE? The Medium Survival Times are very impressive. Most importantly, approximately 25% of these dogs are still alive after 3+ years. I continue to pray that my little Sadie will break all the records!

    I do have two questions:

    #1). Is it okay to feed her a very high protein diet? I’ve been feeding her dog foods which are 55% to 69% protein, and only 1% to 10% carbs. She loves them.

    #2). Don’t laugh at my second question! Is it okay for me to feed her 2 hard-boiled eggs every morning? Yes, believe or not, that’s her favorite food. She has a real egg addiction! She relentlessly barks at me each morning until she hears the water boiling!

    Thanks,
    Maria

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Maria,
      as long as liver and kidney function are okay, and she tolerates the diet, and you are using it with veterinary supervision, I believe you will be okay.
      And as to eggs, sure, with the same caveats as above, and there is no pancreatitis history.
      I am very happy to hear this good news!!!! :)
      Dr D

  • Anne Marie

    Hello,
    My 11 year old female chow was just diagnosed with a mass in her mouth. The mass is mushroom shaped, on a wide stalk located on her middle of the roof of her mouth. She was taken into the OR this morning… the surgeon reported these findings: the mass extends backwards down the throat approx. 8 cm. Her chest X-Rays, Head and Neck films are clear with no disinguished spread of the cancer. Blood work is good with a small increase in white cell count (18,000). Lymph nodes on visual and physical exam are not swollen. Due to the location of the mass my surgeon is not advocating surgery (difficult location prove to bleeding during surgery). I can not sit by and do nothing – want a proactive approach to at least try to help my girl. My dog is very active, strong and healthy (alpha female). Her symptoms have presented as excessive drooling and some diminished appetite. The Merial MCC vaccine looks promising but I don’t know how they can stage the mass (no biopsy)… and if my girl is even a candidate. Looking into options now… think an MRI would be beneficial to determine the extent of the mass invasion in the surrounding area. Would appreciate your thoughts… also looking into holistic options.
    Thank you,
    Anne Marie

  • Anne Marie

    As an addendum to my earlier note today: I have contacted a well regarded cancer specialist and have secured an appointment for tomorrow ( Rebecca Risbon and Bob Orsher [PHILA PA]- he was my vet’s prof in med school). They have on-site MRI, am requesting either that or a CAT scan for baseline diagnostics. My vet has suggested possibly laser surgery – can have better results where location is difficult and excessive bleeding is a consideration. In general research I read that organic cottage cheese and flaxseed oil can be beneficial, also Vitamin A, B Complex, C, and E, and last but not least parsley (the seasoning) which I have growing in my garden. Appreciate any suggestions you can give me for questions to ask the Oncologist… thanks again! Anne Marie

  • Nancy

    Dr. Dressler,
    Raider (11 lbs, 9 years male pomeranian) was diagnosed with Oral Melanoma Sarcoma on fourth premolar n the upper right hard palate. It was 1.5 cm when 1st discover (May 2nd), become 3 cm after all of the testing (aspirates of the lymph nodes, chest X-ray) (within 2 wks). Now the main liason is abt 5 cm and also the outer gum towards the right lip or most likely from the main tumor spread out sideways crossing the molar and in the back of his eye (my vet can not move the eyeball when he is pushing it). There are some discharge on his nose with a tint of blood. My doctor said, that he saw a hole inside the mouth towards the nose, so he’ll expect that the food will started to come out from his nose in a near future. He is in clavamox, tramadol, sucralfate (occassionally), and Apocaps and your diet guideline.

    Raider is picky eater, so I blend all his food and put in his mouth with syringe. For the past 2 days, he is fighting the meal time.He run and hide every time he saw syringe. I administered the meds during the mealswith syringe. He hates tramadol and shake his head off everytime I gave him that.

    He is still alert, barking, and like to go with us in a car ride. Eat a little meat/cooked chicken liver by hand. Started loosing weight.

    (May 25th), when the marker was about 3.5 cm, I took him to a reputable teaching hospital at UC Davis (oral and dental surgery center) and the Drs said Raider is not a good candidate for surgery because it’s larger than 2 cm. “It is not fair for the dog” if we do it anyway, due to possible metastasis (although X ray n aspirates says “clear”.

    If we opt for radiation will leave a hole and will be a problem in about 8 months time frame. So, we opt out because I don’t want to make Raider to face bigger problem and suffers twice when the cycle came back just to buy time for myself.

    1. At this stage (over 5 cm), is the Melanoma Vaccine alone (no radiation, no chemo, no surgery) can help? — what is the side effect? Big holes?

    2. Neoplasene treatment (I read on your blogs)? Why no vet and oncologist mention about it? Was it only available through holistic vet?
    I read about neoplasene salve case study on oral melanoma (see page 80) http://www.buckmountainbotanicals.net/pdf/Discussion%20and%20Case%20Histories.pdf. How is the salve made?

    3. Antiangiogenic treatment? Where can I find this treatment? Is it also available only through holistic vet only? None of the vets mention this as an option.

    If I want to give a shot to my last resources, which treatment (or combine treatment) can slow the growth of the melanoma sarcoma without decreasing the quality of life that he currently have?

    God Bless you, Dr Dressler. Your time in replying is greatly blessed. Other readers who has suggestion, please email me nadiwijaya@hotmail.com. Thanks!

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Nancy,
      the melanoma vaccine does not leave big holes that I have encountered. So that’s an option and there is some emerging evidence that it may benefit without chemo. Neoplasene leaves holes.
      Antiangiogenic treatment is a possibility. I included botanicals with these effects in my apoptogen supplement. Could talk to your onc about metronomic chemo.
      Best
      D

  • Shel

    Hi Dr Dressler,

    Our 10.5 year old golden girl was diagnosed with melanoma back in February. She had her 3rd eyelid removed and has since gone through 4 chemotherapy (carboplatin) sessions. Unfortunately, on her 4th chemo session, they found her lymph nodes to be enlarged. A biopsy revealed that there was melanin present. An xray and scan of her vital organs showed that they are all clear so far. The treatment protocol now has been shifted to another series of chemotherapy, this time with Dtic, followed by the melanoma vaccine. Throughout all these,
    she has maintained the same energy and love for life, bounces back from each chemo session and surgery, has a great appetite and loves her exercise. She gets home cooked foods with higher protein content and complex carbs like brown rice or quinoa. And we supplement that with salmon oil and a multivit powder that was recommended by the nutritionist.

    My worry is that melanoma is known to be resistant to chemotherapy, so should we be going straight to the vaccine without wasting more time and money on chemotherapy? And should we be supplementing her diet with anything else? They are saying our girl probably has less than 6 months to go.

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Shel,
      it seems you would be well served to educate yourself on what else you can be doing, which was the purpose of the Guide.
      One of the first things we discuss in the Guide is getting the data you need and answering the proper questions.
      Here is one of these questions to ask your oncologist:
      What would you guess is the gained life expectancy comparing melanoma vaccine+chemotherapy with vaccine alone?
      As to supplements, yes, i would consider (under veterinary supervision) apoptogens, immune support, and flax lignans to start.
      Hope this helps
      Best
      D

  • Nancy

    Dr Dressler,

    My oncology said that the vaccine won’t work on Raider. I did not ask why.

    Is it OK to try graviola along with your Apocaps? Do you think graviola has the same effect like Neoplasene (make hole)?. Is it worth to try?

    Do you have any blog about Graviola? I’ve heard about using graviola in human cases from the boiled leaf in Indonesia, which have a “burning feeling/sensation” of the effected areas, but indeed make the cancer disappear. Then I searched on the net, and not so many cases found in dog. Here is one of the blog that seems work in a dog.
    http://www.cancercompass.com/message-board/message/all,17411,1.htm

    http://www.theinternetpetvet.com/233/

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Nancy,
      I hesitate to use this for dogs with cancer- see this link:
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mds.20632/abstract;jsessionid=382E758C6B55C0C767C23CF3DBFBBC6F.d02t04
      I would stick with the reviewed supplements in the Guide – you already know about apocaps, but you would want to add it immune support, fatty acids, modified citrus pectin, artemesinin, etc.. use under veterinary supervision. We need to understand we are trying to increase life quality and life expectancy, and these may help, at least to some extent. Don’t forget to use veterinary supervision-
      Best
      D

  • Betty

    Apollo was diagnosed in sept 2010 and with surgery to remove tumor given 3-6 m. No “vaccine” but another surgery later, he is still with us and doing fairly well for a 12 year old doggie. I haven’t researched this site but please, don’t buy in to miracle cures. Life cycles are what they are; we just give Apollo the best quality of life we can and are thankful for the 12 + years we have enjoyed with him!

  • Bryan Long

    My wife and I feel as though we were cheated. We had to put our golden retriever “Gracie” down just 3 days ago. She had malignant melanoma of the skin. It first showed its horrible, ugly face as a tumor on her toe. After amputating her toe, we took her to MSU in Lansing, MI. They decided that the melanoma vaccine would be best for her. I beg to differ that now, because once Gracie was diagnosed with melanoma, on July 8th, she was given 3 of the initial 4 melanoma vaccine injections and her condition worsened rapidly! So many more mass lumps keep popping up all over her body. She developed a tumor on her back knee bone…which she would not walk on. She became so short of breathe and just stopped eating for the final 2 days we had her. We were told that the melanoma vaccine had a better survival rate them chemo….within 7 weeks of her initial diagnosis…we had to do a dog lovers worst nightmare, we had to put our sweet, loving, affectionate, caring 4 year old golen retriever down…and she was just barely 4 years old, her birthday is July 16. I just wish we were told that she didn’t have much time left, because I wouldn’t of put her through all the melanoma vaccine injections and surgeries…knowing how rapidly it spread after the vaccines where administered. Gracie didn’t deserve that. Your forever in our hearts Gracie…”our sweet baby dirl” as Mommy would call you.

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Bryan,
      sending you my thoughts during this difficult time of departures. So sorry you and Gracie had to go through this.
      Best
      D

  • G. Pomerance, MD

    Our 13 year old German shorthair, who suffers from spinal stenosis with resulting neurologic deficits, developed MM in the posterior buccal area which at time of discovery was necrotic and bloody. Our vet removed it en bloc which didn’t phase the dog, but now we are faced with the prospects of more surgery, RT and CT. What would be your advice for a dog so close to the end of life?

  • Robin

    My golden retriever was diagnosed with melanoma just before his 10th birthday. He had a lump on his gum which we had removed. After considering surgery, radiation and the vaccine, we decided to go with the vaccine alone. He had the full round of vaccines and after two years, the cancer vet said he could be considered to be in full remission. He recommended booster shots, but we opted to stop treatment at the time. He was recently euthanized at 13 years 4 months due to conditions my regular vet said were simply due to old age. There was no evidence of reoccurance of melanoma. It won’t work for every dog, but I had an extra three plus years with my beloved dog due to the vaccine.

  • debbie calvert

    My rott/dob diagnosed with malignant melonoma on upper jaw saw oncologist suggested ct scan, surgery, maybe radiation if roots, or a new study to shrink tumor, dillon is 11.5 yrs old male. waiting for ct scan to do monday. jan 16. We would like to try the new vaccine without surgery, has anyone tried without surgery first? Our vet used laser on the sites that was the only treatment, looks like it is growing back already. We are at a loss and need advice from anyone out there with a similiar situation. the study would not allow the new vaccine to be used.

    P.s. to robin, your situation sounds similiar to ours. I am sorry to hear about your loss.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Debbie, it seems there may be a survival benefit to the vaccine without surgery or radiation. It does not seem to shrink the tumors however, yet the median survival in dogs with advanced and spread cancer (that could not be removed) was over a year..so that is better than otherwise.
      Of course you will want to use as many tools as possible as discussed in the Guide
      Best
      Dr D

  • cheryl

    Hi Dr Dressler,

    My 16 year old cocker spaniel was diagnosed with oral melanoma 4 months back and we removed the 2cm lump from her gums, immediately put her through the initial 4 oncept vaccines and did everything recommended in your cancer guide plus apocaps.

    She’s been well and a week back when I brought her back to the vet, another smaller lump near the original site was discovered and we immediately debulk it too.

    Q1) I am wondering since there is a new lump whether I should do the whole initial 4 vaccines every 2 weeks again (making it 8 initial 2 weekly vaccines) and then only follow up with her 6 monthly booster?

    Q2) As I do not want to put her through chemo, would you recommend that her 6 monthly booster in the future to be a 3 monthly booster? Reason is cancers mutate and I want to wipe it out from her system ASAP as much as possible to increase her survival time.

    Q3) What is the reason for there to be a fixed recommended 4 intial 2 weekly oncept vaccine and then a 6 monthly maintenance booster? Can we chande the schedule to be more aggressive in out treatment protocol?

    Q4) Also I have a rottie with osteosarcoma and is putting her on 9 apocaps a day with piroxicam. Is that ok? Her cancer cannot be removed and it has spread to her lungs. Is there anything I can do to slow the spread or control the growth at her lungs? It is critical now.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Best Wishes,
    Cheryl

  • Darah McGroarty

    I don’t mean to rain on the dog oral vaccine but a few things must be noted and watched for with this vaccine.
    Our puggle had an oral melanoma removed, radiation along margins and in lymph even though 7 biopsies did not reveal cancer in those specimens. She was given her first oral melanoma on day on of the five day radiation period. For the next four days she looked and acted like a sick dog with lethargy and the typical sick look in her eyes. I called Merial to get info and was told again that she may have a low grade fever but no other side effects. They took my info and their vets contacted my oncologogist vet. Their vets told my vet that indeed, some dogs do react in the same manner as my dog for about three days. Two weeks later, she was given her second oral melanoma vaccine and was sick for over a week and still not normal a day away from her third shot. I contacted our oncologogist vet and he found this unusual. We debated giving her the third vaccine. The day before she was to have her third vaccine I caught her licking her girl parts that had just been treated with proper meds for a UTI. every time I saw her lift her legs to lick I tan over to see which part of her lower area she was licking. I emptied anal glands and that was not the problem. About one hour after grabbing her legs and seeing where she was licking I was shocked to see large round red areas on her belly. Off to local ER vet who realized we needed to make the long trip to the specialty vet hospital where she had her oral surgery, radiation and first two vaccinations.
    Her blood work showed that her platlets were dangerously low, but RBC was acceptable. Vets determined that her immune system was killing off the platlets and she was put on large amounts of IV steroids to try to get her body from continuing to destroy platlets. By the next day in the ER vet hospital, the red marks had enlarged, spread further up, down, out and into her eye. The oncologogist vet and I, the observant layperson dog mother, believe that this oral melanoma vaccine may have caused this intense, fast moving immune reaction. She is still at the hospital on two different steroids and her condition is guarded. My husband and I are bracing for the phone call that she did not survive.
    Although there is no hard core proof that this oral melanoma may have caused this immune system reaction, both the oncologogist vet and my husband and I do believe this vaccine (possibly adjuvents) is in fact responsible for this aggressive immune reaction. The vet did say that it would not be unlikely to see such an immune response after a vaccine, but he was not clear if he meant this particular vaccine.
    So, although this dog oral melanoma vaccine may be a god send for some dogs I feel I must alert others to watch their dog’s response very carefully after this vaccine as my husband and I did. Alert your oncologogist vet about any reaction and be on guard.

    Remember: each dog and cancer is unique and will respond in their own ways. Please note that my dog may die shortly due to this intense platlet destroying immune response. She is in guarded condition and the hope is that the two steroids will stop the body from attacking platlets. But we won’t know that for many weeks IF she survives this serious episode. We love this dog as a human child and our hearts will be broken when she passes. We were told that this was NOT a magic bullet vaccine but that it had no side effects save low grade fever. That was not the case as the Merial vets admitted to my oncologogist vet. We were told that no dog deaths have been reported but that claim would be hard to refute as you do not know what else was going on in the dogs body pre vaccination. This dog’s bloodwork was fine. CT showed no cancer in internal organs and in fact the organs looked quite good for a 13 year old dog who had undergone surgery, radiation and medications. She was actually in good shape and quite possibly we should not have given her this vaccine. However, marketing reports showed longer survival times with surgery, radiation, and this vaccine so of course we would do all three plus other immune enhancing treatments, cancer diet change, etc. Those are marketing reports without enough real world data reporting yet.

    Bottom line is to watch your dog super carefully after this vaccine for ANY reactions at all. This is a new vaccine and Merial does not have enough reported data on this vaccine. Beware and be on guard with this vaccine, other vaccines and of course, any medications and treatments. The obvious blanket statement.

    Thank you.

  • Darah McGroarty

    UPDATE FROM ABOVE COMMENT: DOG DEATH DUE TO THIS ORAL MELANOMA VACCINE: TWO BOARD CERTIFIED ONCOLOGISTS AND TWO BOARD CERTIFIED INTERNISTS STATED THE ORAL MELANOMA VACCINE CAUSED SEVERE IMMUNE REACTION AND DEATH IN OUR DOG. BE ON ALERT! ANY REACTION, INCLUDING “MILD” REACTIONS NEED TO BE REPORTED TO THE VET. A FOLLOW ON VACCINE SHOT SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AFTER INITIAL ADVERSE REACTION. OUR DOG DIED ON 16 FEBRUARY 2012. COST TO TRY TO SAVE HER: $20k. And we are heartbroken.

    My Puggle died from an immune reaction to this oral melanoma vaccine. She was sick (Malaise, lethargy) for 4 days after the first vaccine. She was sick for a full 8 days after the second vaccine and we were not going to give a third vaccine shot due to this. She had a severe reaction about 9 days after the second shot with red circles around her belly. We rushed her to the Specialty Vet ER where she was in serious condition. Her immune system was attacking her bone marrow and had stopped all platelets from being released. Her red blood cell count dropped and she was given three blood transfers, plus a canine med to boos her platelet count (didn’t work) and then a human medication to again try to boost her platelet count. The human med helped but the dog either bled into her lungs or threw a clot and was dead. She was fighting to survive and the two Vet Specialty Oncologists and Internists (Board Certified) all stated that this oral melanoma vaccine was the cause of her immune reaction and death. Her treatment to try to save her from the vaccine reaction is around $20k. Vets MUST alert owners to the fact that this vaccine like all vaccines may cause reactions and to be on guard for any changes including lethargy. Merial will be alerted to this death but I expect they will NOT include it within their data or change their “NO SIDE EFFECTS” marketing sentence. Be on guard that at least one dog has died from this oral melanoma vaccine and four board certified vets are aware of this.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Darah
      I am very saddened to hear this news. I am sorry.
      This is an important event for dog guardians to know about.
      I will keep my eyes open for more of the same information and see if this is a repeating event.
      Best
      Dr D

  • Mary Kate Doyle

    My 9 yr old king Charles cavalier was diagnose with malignant melanoma 7 weeks ago . 2cm mass removed from her mouth . No clear margins . Cxr clear at the time . I have decided to not treat her with the vaccine . She may also have Cushing’s disease . And she also has tested positive for lyme ‘s disease . I don’t know what to be looking for . Dr said 3-6 months . But guarded .. She is my heart and I don’t want her to suffer .. Recently she has been cough gagging intermittently .. And stretching her neck and swallowing funny when not eating .. She has no problem with food in her dish . What kind of testing should I presume ? The dr last week prescribed some meds for reflux .. Appreciate any help

  • Beatrice Coates

    Our retiever/chow was recently diagnosed with melanoma. She had the golf ball size growth removed, from her gums, as well as her left lymphlode. She has had her first vaccination and requires 3 more. The vaccinations are costing us approximately $540.00 apiece. (St. Louis, MO area) According to our Oncologist, she has a promising prognosis. We realize it’s not a cure, and the expense is burdensome, but any extra time with her is well worth it.

  • Angelique

    Our 10 yr 10 month Rhodesian Ridgeback was diagnosed today with high grade melanoma. Two weeks ago he had his eye removed due to a tumor causing glaucoma. The biopsy of the eye came back today and was malignant. Does this vaccine work for dogs with melanoma of the eye? Our vet said is prognosis is guarded. His surgery and recovery went very well, but as of yesterday he has stopped eating and is very lethargic.

  • Pat

    We are contemplating an imminent mandibulectomy on our 14 year old Scottie following the removal of a stage 1 melanoma mass on the gum, lower left side. He is otherwise in good health and a very alert dog. The oral surgeon comes highly recommended by our veterinarian and by the oncologist we saw. We would feel better knowing the opinions of anyone who has gone through the surgery with their dog and would like to know if it was worth putting their dog through the procedure regarding quality of life post-surgery.

  • Joann & Kuma

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    My 13 yr old male chow mix was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on the back of his tongue. My vet was able to debunk the tumor and it was excised but it has returned. My vet will try to debunk the mass again. What if the mass is everywhere now? When is it too late for my dog to be considered a candidate for this new melanoma vaccine? Am I just buying time for myself? is it inhumane to try to keep a dog living as long as he can with cancer? Please help:(
    Best regards,
    Kuma and Joann

  • Joann & Kuma

    Dear Dr Dressler,
    My 13 1/2 year old chow mix was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. He had a tumor on the back of his tongue and my vet was able to remove most of it. However it has returned and my vet is trying to have it removed again as I am writing this message to you. What if the mass has come back and its worse possibly has gone everywhere? How do I know if he is a good candidate for this new melanoma vaccine? Am I trying to just buy time for myself is it inhumane to keep a dog living longer with cancer? Please advise we need help:(
    Best regards,
    Kuma and Joann

  • Arleen

    Hi….We are seriously considering adopting a rescue dog that successfully had a small melanoma lesion removed. The vet’s report indicates that the cancer has not metastasized and the dog is in overall good health. Would she be a good candidate for this “vaccine”? If we are to continue with the adoption process, would someone be willing to give us suggestions as to how to best keep her healthy and boost her immune system?

  • Kuma and Joann

    Kuma and I have decided to try the melanoma vaccine. We had the tumors from the back of the tongue debulked for the 2nd time and we have just completed the 4th shot. It’s been two months now Kuma’s appetite is great he still pulls me on walks and wags his tail! I have started to smell a slight fishy odor coming from his mouth but I am staying optimistic that this vaccine is working! The X-rays so far show no sign of metastasis:)

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      :)

  • Jaenie

    Teddy is 9-10 yr. old rescued Golden/Chow mix. Vet discovered 2 small melanoma tumors on far back top of tongue during dental cleaning. She removed them with laser surgery and “good” margins but know always chance of micrometastastis. Lymph nodes appear clear, no lung evidence. We are going with the Merial vaccine for sure but onco vet also pushing coarse-fract radiation treatments (once a week x 4) with risk of longer-term bone necrosis and loss of hair around jaw/chin (where he scratches due to allergies). Anyone had experience with radiation targeting back of tongue tumor(s)? He also has some other health issues (deaf, allergies, irregular heartbeat, heartworm survivor) so I am trying to trade off quality of life v. extra time radiation might provide. Thank you.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Jaenie,
      Good local control is important for dogs with melanoma. I would encourage you do do radiation and the vaccine. Typically the benefits of course fractionated radiation outweigh the risks. Check out the chapter in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more info on melanoma. And good luck!!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • Maria

    Jaenie,

    My dog was diagnosed with Stage III oral melanoma 23 months ago. She was 11 years old at the time. My local vet in Chicago gave her only 2 to 4 weeks to live. I took her to University of Wisconsin in Madison. The 3cmm tumor was in her jaw and the cancer had also spread throughout her mandibal and check bone, very advanced. The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital removed her jaw and cheekbone, along with lympy nodes. Very narrow, but clean margins. The following week she started 4 radiation treatments (one per week), along with the ONCEPT vaccine every other week. The radiation treatments were presented as a precautionary and optional measure. I chose to give her these four radiation treatements with NO regret. It’s now been OVER 23 months since her surgery and radiation treatments (with absolutely NO side-effects) and she’s alive and happy, with no reoccurence of cancer anywhere in her body!!! She just turned 13 years old last week. I take her for a check-up every 3 months, and she gets her ONCEPT booster shot every 6 months. I highly recommend that you give her the optional four radiation treatements along with the vaccine.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Maria,
      SO WONDERFUL to hear about your dog and her response to treatment. Living longer and living well – that’s what treating dogs and cats with cancer is all about! =)
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • Jaenie

    Thank you for your info, Maria. It’s so helpful to hear about others’ experiences with radiation. We started Meriel vaccine today and I am still considering radiation treatments – lucky to have a great vet oncologist who answers all my questions straightforwardly. I am very happy your dog is doing so well!!! Jaenie

  • Maria

    Jaenie,

    Thanks so much for your kind response. The vaccine really does work! My Sadie just had another check-up last week and she’s still cancer free. It’s now been OVER two years since she was diagnosed with advanced Stage III oral melanoma (over 3cm) which had spread throughout her jaw, mandibal, and entire cheekbone. As I mentioned, she was originally given only 2 – 4 weeks to live without the vaccine, and only 5 mos. to live with the vaccine. I strongly recommend that you also have the 4 radiation treatments along with the Oncept Vaccine as an extra precaution. I’m convinced that Sadie’s radiation treatments absolutely did play an important role ensuring that the cancer didn’t return. Please don’t be leary of any radiation side-effects or discomfort cuz it’s not like with human radiation treatments for cancer. My Sadie had NO negative side-effects whatsoever throughout her 4 treatments. I will say a prayer for your little dog. There definitely ARE miracles! Keep in touch and please let me know how things are going.

    Best Wishes,
    Maria

  • Maria

    Dr. Ettinger,

    Thanks for your kind wishes! I was blessed with a brilliant surgeon at the University of Wisconsin (Dr. McNaughty). He’s their head Professor of Surgery and runs their entire surgical department. He performed Sadie’s 5 hour surgery himself (jaw, mandibal, and cheek) and was apparently able to get extremely narrow but clean margins which seemed impossible to do so. This man, along with all the other doctors at the University, the Merial Oncept Vaccine, and GOD have blessed me with a true miracle and more happiness with my little miniature daschound Saide.

    Question – In your medical opinion, does hitting the 2 year mark since her original diagnosis (date of surgery & first vaccine) mean that she’s been completely cured (cancer will never come back again), or just officially in Remission? What’s the medical definition of “Remission?”

    Thanks,
    Maria

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Hi Maria,
      Congrats on the 2 year anniversary!
      Remission usually means no detectable cancer cells, and for melanoma it may mean normal chest X-rays or CT, normal abdominal ultrasound, but there may sadly be microscopic cells we do not detect with these tests. I am cautious with the cure word with melanoma, but cautious optimism is great! The cancer can still relapse – hopefully it won’t, so enjoy each and every day with Sadie – it is a gift!
      All my best,
      Dr Sue

  • Kuma and Joann

    This message is for Trish and Grizz back on April 2012 they have a chow mix like my Kuma almost same situation as mine. I wanted to know how they are doing?? Kuma had the debulking twice and melanoma vaccines. The tumor has returned but I believe the vaccine and the strict diet plan thanks to Dr Dressler has kept the tumor controlled and so far has kept it from metastasis. He is now on antibiotics and chemo pills Leukeran. He still likes to go on walks:)

  • kathleen

    Hi, I followed the cancer guide. My rottie was doing great. I gave her the apocaps/k9 products. I also gave her the melanoma vaccine. My rottie had melanoma on the digit. She was 3. I removed parts of the digit twice. The first part was sent to the lab. Recomendation send remove the rest of the digit. It was done. Unfortunatley my vet did not send that to the lab. I started the melanoma vaccine,. I did nto give my dog radiation too and today I regret it. I wish vets would say this has to be done. I was told it was probably not needed because the lymphnodes where clean and the lungs where clean. Anyway after finishing the vaccine all was still clean. 1 month later all was clean. But 2 months later there where 2 tumours in the lungs. We started the vaccine again. 1 month later there where 6 more tumours. This was feb 2012. June 11,2012 my baby had a seizure. She had 2 in one day. I put her on seizure medicine but she had 6 more. I was suppose to give the seizure medicine twice a day. Well after calling emergency room a few times I was told to give the medicine after each seizure plus the 2 doses. By that time my baby was wreck. I did as they asked but she was so drugged. They told me that many seizures probably means the tumour went to the brain. They could not give her a mri or cat scan because they feared she could not handle the anesthesia. So I put my baby down. I wish I gave radiation with the vaccine. She loved Dr dressler diet and took the pills easily. I hope i made the right decision.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Kathleen,
      I am so sorry for your loss and all you all went through. Hindsight is 20/20, so try not to second guess everything (I know that is hard). Radiation in general is recommended for digit melanomas if surgical margins are incomplete. The second surgery likely got clean margins. Unfortunately it sounds like the mets/spread was the issue, not the digit (which is what radiation would have focused on).
      Try to focus on all the good times shared through the years! Again so sorry for your loss.
      Dr Sue

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Kathleen
      You did a very good job.
      Here’s a little thing you might find useful:
      http://www.dogcancer.tv/feeling-guilty-about-your-dogs-cancer/
      http://www.dogcancer.tv/how-to-know-when-its-time-to-say-good-bye/
      I hope these help
      Best
      Dr D

  • http://www.goldenpawspcs.com Victoria

    Maria & Dr. E,

    Could you tell me more about Sadie and her procedure? My dog, Mitzi, was diagnosed with oral melanoma back in Dec. It is now July, her tumor is VERY large and has invaded the bone and is now in the nasal cavity preventing her from breathing naturally through her nose (she has been breathing through her mouth mainly) and you can tell it is starting to spred up toward her eye :( We have been doing a natural holistic approach, but I’ve had enough because it clearly isn’t working, out Holistic Vet won’t even see my dog anymore because she believes there is nothing we can do now. We were offered surgery as an option back in Dec and I decided against it because of financial reasons and I believed that we could fight it naturally. Seeing where we are now, I wish we would have done the surgery. Mitzi is such a fighter, she really shouldn’t be here but she keeps fighting every day and is the strongest most determined girl I know. She is a 9 yr old labradane. Please email me at Angelshortcake88@aol.com if you can provide any assistance or advice. Is it ever too late to do surgery? How much could they remove if it is already in the bones that effect her eye, the mandibal, and her cheek?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Victoria,
      Sorry to hear about Mitzi’s struggles. Unfortunately some dogs are not candidate fir surgery when the tumor is too large and/or affecting the eye region. Conventional radiation may be helpful. Melanoma protocols are often weekly for 4 weeks, so not that may overall treatments. I cannot really comment more because I have not examined her and do not know what the tumor is affecting. A CT scan is best for that. I would encourage you to make an appointment with an oncologist who can examine her adn make more specific recommendations. Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HealthDobes/ Louise

    Hello, We just had a small growth taken off our 9 year old Doberman’s back. The biopsy came back today as malignant melanoma. We are seeing an Oncologist in two days. Zarya also has Dilated Cardiomyopathy. My Veterinarian told me about the melanoma vaccine but I don’t know the name of it. Since Zarya’s system is already compromised by the DCM I am trying to gather as much information as possible before her Oncology appt. on Thursday. I would appreciate any help or information you can give me. Right now Zarya has wonderful quality of life and has no idea she is sick. I would like to keep it that way. Quality of life is everything! I am the List Owner of a 1,000 member group on Yahoo called HealthDobes. Thank you! Louise

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Louise,
      Sorry for the delay. I have been away. By now I assume you have met with the oncologist and are underway with the vaccine. I would not anticipate any complications of the DCM with the vaccine. Good luck and keep us updated!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • Maria

    Victoria,

    I’m so sorry about your beloved Mitzi. My little Sadie also had a huge 3cm tumor on her jaw (stage III, very advanced and agressive). She’s a miniature daschound only 10 lbs, and therefore the tumor was really huge for her little mouth. She was in a lot of pain, couldn’t bark or eat. It had already spread throughout her jaw and mandibal, and also through her cheekbone all the way up to the very edge her eye socket.

    I owe her survival to the brilliant Surgeon and the University of Wisconson Vetianarian Teaching School in Madison WI who removed her jaw, mandibal, and entire cheekbone with EXTREMELY narrow margins. He was obviously able to get clean margins. This surgeon and Professor of Vetinarian Medicone heads-up the entire entire surgical department at the University, Dr. McNaulghty. He performed her 5 hour surgery himself. The clinic’s head oncologist (Dr. Ruth Ann Chun) had us give her 4 treatments of mild radiation for 4 consecutive weeks on her mandibal in case there were some microscopic cancer cells remaining. The extra radiation treatment was a precaution and optional which I chose to do (highly recommended). Thereafter, she had a series of the Oncept Vaccine every other week for 8 weeks. She now gets a “Booster Shot” every 6 months. After 2 whole years, the oral melanoma has NOT come back, nor has it matasiticized elsewhere in her vital organs. Once again, my local vet told me that without any doubt she had only 2 weeks more weeks to live and said he could do nothing more for her. Thank God I followed my heart and instinct, and went that extra mile to take her to the University of WI.

    Within 2 days after Sadie’s surgery she was TOTALLY back to normal, playing, eating like nothing had happened. Also, there were absolutely NO side-effects to her radiation treatment and/or Oncept Vaccines. Most importantly, she is NOT deformed or anything. You can barely tell that her jaw and checkbone were removed! Within a week she learned to eat and chew her wet dogfood only using the right side of her mouth. Her dogfood kept on squirting out of the left side of her mouth when she tried to eat cuz she had no jaw or cheekbone. It was halarious because she couldn’t figure out why it was happening. I had to follow her around and clean up an awful lot of dogfood all over the floor!

    She’s now 13 years old, full of life, happy, and her normal self – a little “Trouble-Maker!” Once again, I truly feel that I owe her survival to the brilliant and talented surgeon/professor who performed what was incredibly challenging and almost impossible surgery on her, successfully acheiving extremely narrow but clean margins.

    Victoria, I also sent you an email that you may want to read. Therefore, please check your INBOX. Do what your heart and instincts tell you to do. Time is extremely important at this stage of the game.

    Maria

  • waly derose

    My 13 year old female balck cocker was diaganosed with oral malanoma -board certified oncologist recommended surgery after staging and then Merial vaccine. She died after surgery and the second of four schedued injections of the vaccine. Prior to surgery she had one recactive node-vet started it could have been infection rather than cancer-wrong diagnoses- had I known of that I would not have put her through sugery- remember to ask for all reports and have answers to all questions before pursuing odds that are against the pet from the start.

  • waly derose

    My 12 year old female cocker had oral melanoma- was staged -had surgery by board certifed vet- saw Oncologist who gave Merial vaccine and after two doses shd died. If fine needle spirates show reaction go for full biopsy to make certain -in our case she lasted less time than no treatment at all. We were not told the report said “reactive” because the vet tnink it may be due to infection of the tumor-in our case she was wrong -cells escaped to the lungs. Bad mistake.

  • Pam

    Maria,
    Just read your blog comments about your dog Sadie. I am faced with almost the exact situation. Adopted a 15yo daschaund from a family member. Took him for dental cleaning and an oral melanoma was discovered about the size of a quarter. This was 8/31/12. As of today it is from side to side in the roof of the mouth. His jaw too is involved as the vet had to pull an upper canine and discovered a hole in the bone. Took him to Columbus for eval. They painted a preety bleek picture as far as options vs. prognosis & life expectancy. We opted not to put him thru treatment. Now I am wondering… Remarkedly he is eating, drinking etc. Does not appear to be in pain. Stands & begs if he thinks u are eating something. As we say in our house, “he is still in there.” Your comments have given me a little hope although I know what we are facing. Would u mind to give me a ballpark estimate of what your treatment cost. u can email me privately if u wish. Thanks, Pam

  • Maria

    Pam,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your little dog. I know what you’re going through. I was also told that my Sadie had only 2 weeks to live, no hope, and not to even try treating her. Well, it’s now 28 months later and she’s still wagging her tail, running around happy, and cancer free! I’d be more than happy to share the cost details of her treatment with you. Please forward me your email address, or phone number if you’d like me to call you.

    Thanks,
    Maria

  • Maria

    Pam,

    As per your request, following is a cost breakdown of Sadie’s treatment:

    Surgery $2,700 Removed jaw, mandibal, cheekbone
    Radiation Treatments $1,000 4 Treatments after surgery, $250 ea.
    Oncept Vaccine $ 300 1 Oncept Vaccine every 2 weeks
    after surgery (8 weeks). Thereafter,
    1 vaccine every 6 months.
    Check-Up & X-Ray $ 120 Every 3 months ($45 + 75)

    Sadie was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma over 28 months ago. She’s still with me, happy, and cancer free. Money well spent, no regrets!

    Take Care,
    Maria

  • Leslie C.

    My 15 yo chow/hound mix (Red) was recently seen by her vet and the vet suspects she has a cancer on her tongue. She has some arthritis issues but is in relatively good health otherwise. She is eating fine, she eats her food and then checks our other dog’s bowl to see if he leaves leftovers. I am planning to start her on the diet recommended here starting tomorrow.

    I am reluctant to pursue surgery because of her age but it sounds like others on the board with elderly dogs have opted for surgery and they’ve pulled through just fine. Can anyone here offer advice on surgery in geriatric dogs? I’m planning to take her to a specialist for evaluation but would like some honest advice from folks here who’ve been through all of this. I’d like to pursue the vaccine as well if it ends up being right for her.

    Thanks all and my heart goes out to everyone here trying to cope.

  • dana

    Hi there,
    My dog is 16 and went through surgery,they removed 75% of his mandible.It turned out to be melanoma.But after 1 month and another general anesthesia because his sutures opened he is doing very well.Prognosis is not good long term but the age of the dog should not make you reluctant about the surgery.
    He learned how to eat within 3-4 days after the surgery.I found that absolutely amazing.They are tougher than us.

  • renee mitchell

    My dog has oral melanoma – received radiation and vaccine – did not know about the followup vaccine after 6 months – vet I was seeing did not followup after I switched to another oncologist as I felt like she was not thorough enough -

  • Sandra S

    Anyone know of a reasonable cost Oncologist near new york city???

    My approx 13 chow (not sure how old she was a rescue) had a large tumor on her tongue in the back of her mouth. It turned out to be melanoma but did not appear to spread anywhere else in her body. She had surgery and they were able to remove it. I am giving her everything natural I can find, ie reishi and maitake mushroom, fish oil, krill,NK-9, Curcumin, Ahcc along with her arthritis meds.
    The next step is the Oncept Melanoma vaccine. The only problem is that I cannot afford it. I paid about $3100.00 so far with the tests and the surgery. I live in New york so the amount they want for the vaccine is crazy,
    $140 for 1st office visit $85 after,
    then $700 for each shot -
    total of 4 shots that comes to.$3100.00
    I cannot do it . I am willing to pay more I just can’t go that high. I see some on this blog have paid $300 per Oncept shot which would be $1200.00. I could possibly do another $1200.00 They only sell this stuff to Oncologist so you cannot get it from a regular vet (what a racket).
    Does anyone know of a Vet Oncologist near New York city (within a couple of hours drive) that is more reasonable in cost? I could go to NJ, CT …

    Any lead would be appreciated.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger

      Sandra,
      If you are still looking for an oncologist, you can check http://www.acvim.org, and click on find a specialist near you. Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  • Sandra S

    I have just ordered the Survival Guide to see if there is anything else I am missing. i got the diet and have started to make my dog’s food. I just need to find an Oncologist who will charge me around $300 per shot so I can afford to get my dog the Oncept Melanoma vaccine.

    Do you know why a regular vet cannot give his vaccine?

    it all comes from the same company and they direct the dosage. I have already paid for surgery and the test so it had been determined that vaccine is the next step. It is the same medicine no matter who administers it. This is so frustrating.
    Thank you

  • Jason Gworek

    I just found out two days ago that the growth removed from my 3 yr old chocolate labrador, Murphy, is malignant melanoma. I haven’t met with the vet/oncologist yet, but I am trying to gather as much information as possible on the subject. He mentioned the rate at which the cells split (I’m unsure of the medical term) is 2. Most of the information I find pertains specifically to oral melanoma or the digits. Can you provide me with any information on what we’re looking at for a prognosis? It sounds like 2 years is the best case survival time. Would my dog benefit from this vaccine? Does a special diet improve his outlook? I mostly want to know how much time I can expect to have with my dog (I understand this varies depending on many factors, but any estimate is appreciated) and what questions to ask my vet.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Hi Jason
      sorry to hear about your dog’s melanoma…so young :(
      the location of the melanoma gives us a lot of info about its behavior. the oral and digital melanomas are more malignant. Some of the melanomas on the trunk can be cured with simple wide excision surgery and they behave more like benign growths. The location plus the information on the pathology report can give you and your vet an indicator of whether the expected behavior will be more benign or more malignant.
      Having said that, I routinely change the diets in dogs with melanoma generally. There is a free pdf you can download on the top of this blog.
      I would also read this post:
      http://dogcancerblog.com/an-overview-of-what-else-can-i-do/
      Finally, the Guide goes into the comprehensive answer to your question, which is an easy read and was written for exactly that purpose, so I would recommend you read it. It is an easy read and there is a melanoma section as well as details on the supplements, chemo etc.
      I hope this helps,
      Dr D

  • FunnyBoscar

    Tonight (Feb.05.2009), beloved dog Boscar died. He is such a good dog that he did not let me choose any option. He loves his daddy so much that he died in daddy arm. (I think he had a heart failure). Took his last sip/food from daddy and Even though it was very difficult to walk,just before collapsing he was searching for daddy who was in the living room.

    LAst two days were very difficult for him. He was very tired to walk,
    did not eat well/drink. Even though daddy was forcing mommy for “Putting him to sleep”, mommy resisted. Boscar was such a good boy that once he knew, daddy doesnot want him, he died the same night
    around 11:45 PM.

    Both Mommy/daddy/and his brother Bharath (the Cat) miss very VERy VERY much. Undiscriebable. Mommy sees everywhere his stuff: His blankie, toys, bowls, beds, sprays, cloths, even the new kids wagon mommy got for him today. Since it was very difficult to walk, i thought I can take him to walk in that.

    Finally, I am not very fortunate to spend some more time with him.
    He was only 9 years old. Why he should die so young. I saw lot of
    dogs live upto to 17 years. Why should he get deadly form of cancer?
    I don’t know.

    I do not know what i am going to do tomorrow.
    Love you Boscar. Love you so very much

    -Savi

  • debbie cox

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am crying my eyes out reading your story. We just found out last month that Our Oscar 10 year old Schnauzer has mouth cancer. We love him so much. I wouldn’t leave him with anyone over the past 10 years. If he couldn’t go with us we didn’t go. We have 2 schnauzer’s. the other is 7 yrs old and in good health. Oscar is our baby. We can’t imagine life without him. It’s so hard accepting this. I don’t know how we will.
    May God be with you.

  • Karla

    We have a 13 yr old choc lab with oral melanoma. He had 1 tumor removed from his mouth, and we started him on the oral melanoma vaccine as well as various supplements. The cancer had spread to his lungs – but at a 3-month checkup/xray – that has shrunk. His tumor has come back again – and again – we had it removed.
    The vet oncologist wanted to do a series of radiation treatments – but we aren’t sure if this is best since they put them under anesthesia to do the radiation.
    Considering his age – and the fact that he has quite a large mass of fatty tumors that can’t be removed in his chest (he also weighs 115lbs – a lot of it tumors) – and has difficulty walking – we think it would be best to just continue to have the tumor removed if it comes back again instead of putting him through a course of radiation treatments.
    Has anyone else faced this decision – and helpful thoughts?
    Thanks

  • Gayle

    I have a 131/2 y/o Chessie, Lucy, whom I found an oral tumor on last Feb. 3 days later it was excised-unfortunately the vet did not get clean margins. We did the 4 vaccine transdermals and said no to radiation. I was treatment director in a lymphedema center for 10 years and no matter what anyone tells you radiation is VERY stressful to the body-it irrevocably changes it in a negative way. Can you imagine what would happen if you do this to a retreiver breed’s soft mouth? She is still with us and will have another ultrasound to check for mets in August. I am financially lucky in that I am the canine rehabilitation director at a great veterinary referral hospital in Maine so I get a break on medical services for Lucy. She eats Bravo raw turkey and vegetables and all her treats are non-carb and she gets a great field run daily where she rolls around in puddles and skips home looking like Pigpen! She has developed uveitis, which can be connedted with malignant melanoma. Therefore she cannot sleep in a truly dark house at night due to the risk of falling because she does not see well at all. So far, that is our story and her quality of life is all that matters. She knows we will not let her suffer-she will let us know when she is ready to run inthose endless fields beyond.

  • Joanie

    My dog,Buddy, is almost 12 years old. Approx 1.5 months ago we found out he has the agressive form of oral melanoma. They wanted to do a partial jaw removal and then radiation treatments. In my research tho I found that this is a pretty harsh surgery and the radiation costs I could not afford. Plus the quality of life may not be very good after these 2 procedures. It has broken my heart. My Buddy is my baby and I do not know what I will do when he passes. But in reading these articles about this new vaccine I was wondering if it would benefit Buddy to receive them even tho he has not had the surgery? Does anyone know? I would do this if it would slow the progression and give us more time with our angel dog as long as HIS quality of life remains good. Can anyone tell me if they will give the vaccine without the dog having the surgery 1st? Time is off the essence.
    Thank you so much!

  • Dr. Dressler

    Joanie,
    the melanoma vaccine is a good idea with or without surgery. You should pursue it. I will address this question more in this month’s webinar, which will be recorded so you can listen later (www.mydogvet.com).
    Best,
    Dr D

  • Dr. Dressler

    Joanie, here is a useful link for you about the melanoma vaccine:
    http://dogcancerblog.com/new-treatment-for-dogs-with-melanoma/
    Best,
    Dr D

  • Emily

    My dog was diagnosed with what pathologists believe is amelanotic malignant melanoma which was located on the side of her trunk. To the best of my memory it was pigmented in color. I have had melanoma so it caught my attention. The oncolgist said it did not make sense that the growth was pigmented but diagnosed amelanotic. The pathologists are not sure of the diagnosis but that it was most consistant with amelanotic melanoma, even after further stains. I did some research and found a study that used TRP-2 staining to diagnose amelanotic melanoma but the pathologists were not familiar with the stain. I am desperate to find out if there is a lab to perform this stain before I spend thousands of dollars on the melanoma vaccine when she may not have melanoma.Has anyone heard of the TRP-2 stain? Thank you!

  • Joanie

    Hi Dr. D !
    I wrote to you before about my dog Buddy. He has the melanoma in his mouth. I was wondering if there is anything I could maybe gently flush out that area with to remove any debris and help with the bad odor. The mass is getting bigger but he is still able to eat well but I am thinking that possibly some food may be staying up there caught between his lip and gum. The mass is on the upper jaw (gum) and is covering 3 teeth now. I do not want to make it any worse or cause him any pain… but if there were something I could flush that out with I would appreciate knowing about it. My vet told me to just use warm water but I thot maybe you had a better idea.
    Thank you so much!!
    Joanie

  • Jose

    hi Dr.D
    i was told my dog has amelanotic melanoma. i dicided that i did not want my dog to suffer by dealing with all the side effects that chemo and other conventional medicines would cause. i started to give her some natural medicine and after a bit mor ethan a month the mass which was in front of upper mouth starting to grown i nhe rnose completely went away. but a couple weeks later another mass started to develop and it has increased in size (near the back of her mouth).

    i am aware that cancers can metastisize but should it not keep on growing in the initial spot. the initial mass has no signs of regrowth so it seems a bit weird to me. if the natural medicine worked for one why not the other area and if its working that might be why the other mass has not reappeared. also other than the noticeable mas sin her mouth she seems to be doing quite well . no loss of weight. before she was given the natural med her coat was dry and she really lokkeed her age 10yrs but after the natural med was given her coat is very shiny not opaque looking like before. she is still very playful and i see no sigs of debilitation

    could this be something else Dr. D.. it is too bad that for some reason the vet or the pathologist do not keep the samples otherwise i would have them rechech it again. do you recommend i do another aspiration to determine if is or not amelanotic malignant melanoma. i will ask that they keep sample. thanks

  • Dr. Dressler

    Jose,
    it would be good if the pathologist made a mistake. Frankly speaking, although not zero, it is pretty rare for a real screw up to happen. Cancers often expand along planes of “least resistance”, and many times will “dissect” along or between natural potential spaces in the body. I worry that you are seeing spread of a tumor, but you are only seeing the tip (or the top) of a deeper iceberg.
    It is pretty rare for natural medicines to create a true remission of a melanoma statistically. Not impossible, but not common. I would increase your efforts and expand your horizons, or alternatively focus on life quality and increasing the joys of life with your dear one. A choice should be made in this regard, and either one is the right one. You might want to look into high dose Vitamin C injections as a compromise…
    Best,
    D

  • Rachael

    Dear Dr. D,

    I second Joanie’s question from October 11th, 2009 at 11:55 am regarding what to use to flush a dog’s mouth to help with the bad odor? Or is there anything that can be done other than surgery, such as having a vet give him a sedative so he can clean the area? My dog Otto is doing great (other than the big melanoma) but the bad odor repels people and therefore decreases his quality of life. :-(

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    Rachael

  • Dr. Dressler

    Dear Rachael,
    One idea to consider is the use of ozone water. This is water that has been treated in a little machine, which can be purchased on line (either the water itself or the unit that converts normal water to ozone water). Do a search for “Amazon buy ozone water” and you will find some options. Dentists use it for bacterial infections in the mouth (for periodontitis, gum recession and so on), and it has some interesting anti cancer effects. It is a pro-oxidant, and increases the amounts of free radicals in cells. Cancer cells already have a lot of free radicals in them, and the extra load tends to make them commit suicide. Although I am not (yet) at the point where I advise it to be taken internally, I think a daily mouthwash might help.
    Hope this helps,
    Dr D

  • Dr. Dressler

    PS Racheal,
    you can use a turkey baster or a large syringe with the needle removed (from your vet) to help administer ozone water into the mouth of your dog.
    D

  • Mary

    Dr. D

    Hello. My dog has been diagnosed with amelanotic melanoma, she is only 3 1/2. we noticed the lump on her tongue over Christmas. I took her to the vet Wed, Dec 30th, they did a biopsy and sent of for results. The results came back w/2 diff possible kinds of cancer on Tuesday the 5th, so staining was ordered…we have yet to receive the staining results. In the meantime, we visited a second vet for “second” opinion, they send pictures off to an oncologist who suggested surgery. We went in for surgery Monday the 11th, the mass looked larger than it was…when the surgeon got in there she said there were 3 tumors no bigger than a marble each…much smaller than they appeared from the outside. B/c of this and b/c my puppy is only 3 1/2 she wasn’t convinced it was a melanoma…so she saved her tongue and “cleaned out” the tumors with a laser…she send off her biopsy which came back today as amelanotic melanoma. :o( She had chest x-rays done last week which look clear with no sign of metastasis, seeing as she didn’t actually cut out a chunk of her tongue she didn’t get clean margins, we are going to the oncologist to start the vaccine on Monday, so far we are assuming the cancer is stage one…the dr. said possibly stage 0 after removing what we did…is there any holistic meds we can try as well? And is it possible that she can live the rest of her life (not just another 6months or a year) or are we just trying to prolong the inevitable? Is there a “cure” for this type of cancer? I can’t find very much info on the internet for dogs with “stage I”…

    Oh…in may of 2008 she had a lump in the same spot…we took her in and the dr. drained it…he said it looked like an infection, it was all liquid, he didn’t sent it of for a pathology report, but said as far as he could tell under a microscope it was non cancerous. Thanks for all your help.

  • Mary

    that happy face was supposed to be a sad face…huh. :(

  • Jaime

    Hi,

    Im from Colombia and the veterinarian found in my golden retriever (11 years old) a melanoma. We did him surgery but i still want to give him the vaccines but in my country The Merial Labs does not sell it. is there any way that i can get it in the US and bring it to Colombia? I dont care the price

    Thanks

  • Jody

    My beloved 15 year old shih-tzu, Kiki has oral melonoma. We had it removed 2 weeks ago and was referred to an animal cancer clinic. I brought her in to inquire about the canine melonoma vaccine. I do not want her to undergo partial jaw removal, radiation or chemotherapy. I just about fell over when they gave me the estimate for the vaccine, $2200 for only the first 4 doses. I read where another reader paid $1800 but found the doses cost about $250 each on the internet. This makes me very upset that they would more than double the actual cost of the vaccine, knowing that as pet lovers we would do nearly anything for our beloved pets and taking advantage of us financially. I can’t afford the $2200 unfortunately, they’re lack of sincere compassion just infuriates me to no end.

  • Maria

    Jody,

    My 11 year old dachshund was diagnosed with Oral Melanoma. She’s currently being treated at the University of Wisconsin’s Animal Hospital in Madison. The cost of each vaccine is $350 (4 bi-weekly vaccines are necessary – total $1400). Their Oncology department is really wonderful, very compassionate and caring doctors. I would highly recommend them to anyone whose trying to save their beloved pet.

  • Maria

    Dr. Dressler,

    Question -> Has any dog ever been able to totally survive and beat Oral Melanoma (Phase II)? If so, what is the percentage of these dogs?
    Or, even possibly live longer than the maximum 600 days that I’ve read about?

    My dog’s melanoma was in her jaw. Her jaw was removed about a month ago. They’ve given her radiation treatments to kill a few cancer cells that they found in the bone marrow in her madibal. No other cancer appears anywhere else in her body to date. I believe her tumor was about 2cm.

    I’m not trying to wish for the impossible. I’m very honest and realistic with myself. However, I’m just curious as to whether or not there’s been any dogs at all that have totally beaten melanoma similar to my dog’s condition.

    Thanks.

  • gloria

    I had the melanoma vaccine done for my dog, she had a growth on her tongue, in the back of the tongue. Anyway, my vet said it really should not be called a vaccine, as it is not. The course of treatment is, one treatment each week for 4 weeks, then 1 every six months.
    $350. per injections????? That I would have rejoiced over…..my dog’s treatment was $701.00 total, $48.00 of it was for the “PROGRESS EXAM, $625.00 FOR THE ACTUAL VACCINE, AND 28.00 FOR IMMUNOTHERAPY PREPARATION AND ADMINISTRATION………..I think it is rediculously high, but they know there are people that will do whatever they can for their dog.

    But so far so good, she is considered in remission….I look constantly at tongue, every night actually. I’ve read and was told it CAN COME BACK, sometimes in the same place sometimes in another area. One day she had a terrible smell from her mouth which alerted me that something was wrong. I immediately took her in thinking it was something internal as she was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2007 and has been in remission for that ever since…but the growth looked like a growth that looked like a mushroom the exploded. Very ugly. I also learned that any dog with a black tongue is prone to this type of cancer. My dog is a Chow.
    But I pray she stays “clean” FOR A LONG TIME, I feel very, very fortunate right now.

  • gloria

    P.S. Wasn’t anyone else told to come in every six months after the initial 4 week treatment?

  • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

    Dear Gloria,
    Sending you and your Chow (these dogs are close to my heart, as my own dog Bjorn is a Chow) all my best during these trying times!
    D

  • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

    Dear Maria,
    I think you should read this post. It will help!
    D

  • don

    hi Dr Dressler,

    I have a 15 year old Jack russell that was just discovered to have a pigmented 2×2 cm tumor on her top palate, she was biopsied today so I am waiting for the news. The doctor thinks most likely it is malignant melanoma. I would be interested in any resources you have regarding coping with this.

    Sincerely,

    Don

  • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

    Dear Don
    the first thing is to first, put on your oxygen mask. This is a little way of saying take a few steps to get stabilized personally so you can first and foremost function as an efficient, clear headed guardian. Next, get the data (wait for the biopsy). Once we have this information, it will inform the treatment plan. If the odds are high that we are dealing with melanoma, get your Guide and start reading. It will bring you through the entire process of what you are coping with. Things that are often overlooked with these tumors are Matrix III cisplatin impregnated beads, the melanoma vaccine, diet, Apocaps, and more discussed in the Guide.
    Stay in touch
    D

  • don

    Hi Dr Dressler,
    The biopsy came back MM stage 3, no mets identified on lymph nodes or CXR. It is a broad based mass on the upper palate that goes up to the bone but doesn’t seem to be into the bone. I’ve spoken with the oral surgeon and the internist. Excision without completely clean margins is the most that can be done surgically, followed by radiation and then the vaccine. Yoko,(my dog), had her teeth scaled 2 years ago and nothing was noticed at that time. How fast this mass is growing seems to be uncertain. She has no clinical symptoms related to the oral mass at present. How much time she has without aggressive treatment is months but possibly not many from what I understand. How much longer she would naturally live is also uncertain as she will turn 16 this november. I would like to keep her alive as long as possible with the best quality of life possible. At this time she is bouncing back from a bout of gastroenteritis probably from my giving her some vegetarian sausage that didn’t agree with her. She developed vomiting and diarrhea which led me to take her to the University ER which was how the oral mass was discovered. I’ve taken her on bicycle trips in a trailor which has always been fun and I would love to go on one last big ride next summer. On the other hand I think about just enjoying her presence now for as long as it lasts with the thought that if I go the surgical medical route she may never bounce back to where she presently is. I am going to meet with my primary care vet this thursday and the internist at the hospital is going to discuss the case with oncology and get back to me. I am swinging widely between acknowledging the end and enjoying our time to going all out to hopefully extend her life. I will order your book and am grateful for any thoughts you might have.

    Sincerely,

    Don

  • Beth

    Maria,

    When you said that the vaccine was $350 per injection do you mean each dose ($700/week with biweekly injections)? I live in the Madison area and have been considering different treatment options, but unfortunately cost is a big concern for me. My 11 year-old Jack Russell was diagnosed earlier this week with grade II/III unclassified sarcoma- the differential is listed as an amelanotic melanoma and nerve sheath sarcoma. He was also diagnosed with diabetes about 7 months ago (13 IU twice a day) and has had hypothyroidism for 4 years (two pills a day). It sounds like a lot of complications, but his diabetes and hypothyroidism are under control. I would really, REALLY like to take him to the treatment center on campus, but I’m worried that I won’t be able to afford it. Was it easy to get compensation credit?

    Also, I was thinking about adding a milk thistle supplement and/or mistletoe to his diet. One of my good friend’s dad has cancer and takes milk thistle with good results.

    If anyone else has any thoughts please let me know!

    Thanks,

    Beth

  • Maria

    Beth,

    The Oncept vaccine injections were only $350 each at the University of Wisconsin. In other words, your cost would be $350 every 2 weeks. The total cost for all 4 required vaccines would be $1,400.

    I checked clinics and vets all over the Chicago area and the cost for these vaccines was consistently $600 each, totaling $2,400. Therefore, the U of W is definitely the cheapest.

    The U of W has been absolutely wonderful and I would never take my dog anywhere else. Dr. Ruth Anne Chun is Sadie’s Oncologist, and Dr. McNaultly was her surgeon who removed her upper & lower left jaw (oral melanoma tumor) with no post-deformity whatsoever. You can’t even tell she had her jaw removed! These are the two top doctors who run the entire hospital.

    Sadie has now after two long months completed all her procedures – Jaw/tumor removal, 4 vaccine injections, 4 radiation treatments, and a chain mastectomy. The mastectomy was actually just a precaution because they found 3 cysts/lumps in her mammary glands and she has never been spayed. Fortunately, they were all benign. I don’t have to take her back again to Madison for two months (check up & catscan). We just have to wait and pray that her oral melanoma mouth does not recur, nor does it metastisize anywhere else in her little body. It will be a stressful waiting game. The doctors feel fairly confident that they’ve localized her cancer by removing her jaw & lymph nodes, along via the four radiation treatments. Believe it or not, Sadie totally recovered from her jaw removal in only 5 days (no really pain), and she had absolutely NO side-effects from the vaccine injections and/or radiations treatments. Throughout all these procedures and treatment, she has always acted completely normal and happy, like nothing was going on (after her painful tumor had been removed from her mouth).

    As a result of these treatments, her extended life expectancy could now be another one to three years, or possibly longer. Originally, my vet in Chicago only gave her 1 month to live without treatment.

    Believe it or not, I’ve actually spoken directly with Dr. Phillip Bergman, the physician who was responsible for creating this vaccine. I called a phone number that I found on a website, and he actually answered the phone himself!!! He’s a VERY nice man and spoke to me for about 20 minutes on the phone. He personal told me that the most recent research and statistics with respect to the “Medium Survival Time” (MST) for dogs with Oral Melanoma has now shown to be approximately 3 years (or longer), as opposed to previous statistics showing it to be only about 9 to 13 months. In other words, less than 50% of all dogs diagnosed with Oral Melanoma stages II, III, and IV have died prior to 3 years from diagnosis. Apparently in 2010, because researchers have now had much larger testing population and longer time-lines for their clinical trials, more accurate and significantly updated results are possible. As a result, they’ve achieved much more accurate, realistic, set of improved MSTs. He also told me that these more recent clinical test results and statistics relating to projected “Melanoma Medium Survival Times (MSTs)” will NOT be published for another 6 months or so. He also sent me an email recapping what he told me on the phone.

    Regarding treatment costs at the U of W, altogether her treatment has been extremely expensive, in excess of $10,000. As I mentioned, her four Oncept Vaccines were only $350 each. However, in addition to this, her initial diagnostic testing was $2,000 (catscans, blood tests, x-rays, etc.), her four radiation treatments totaled $1,200, her jaw removal was $3,000, her mastectomy was $1,700, and her catscans were $200 each. However, I love her and would do it all over again if I had to.

    Your dog may not need as much extensive treatment as mine did, and therefore your costs would be a lot less. Please remember, my dog needed to have her jaw removed, along with a full mastectomy. These were actually my two greatest expenses. The four Oncept vaccines and/or radiation treatments were a lot less money.

    The University of Wisconsin has been very sympathetic when it comes to my financial situation and inability to pay for everything all at once (I have 3 dogs). Therefore, they’ve allowed me to pay them on a weekly basis whatever amount I can afford. I’ve been paying them $300 per week (total $5,000 to-date). They also gave me a $1,000 credit towards my bill in exchange for my authorizing them to use my dog’s melanoma tumor, blood & urine tests, etc., as specimens in their melanoma research. Also, you can apply for “Care-Credit” which is a credit card for you all your vet bills.

    Bottom line, I feel the University of Wisconsin is the one and only place to take your dog for any type of cancer treatment, especially since you live in Madison already.

    Hope all this information helps you!

    Thanks,
    Maria

  • Maria

    Beth,

    Clarification – The improved MSTs (Medium Survival Times) that Dr. Berger quoted me which I mentioned in my previous message were determined by the recent statistics now available as a result of more extensive Clinical Trials. Please note that these MSTs were based solely on dogs which had been successfully treated with the Oncept Vaccine. Without the vaccine, a dog’s life expectancy remains grim and short as originally believed.

    Thanks,
    Maria

  • Beth

    Maria,

    Thanks for the info! I just took Jack in for a consult with the oncology department at UW today! I’m SO happy and relieved that I did!! They aspirated his right lymph node (his tumor was on his lower right jaw) and took chest x-rays…no detectable metastasis (I opted out of a CT scan that would have been over $600)!!! The only bad news is that oral surgery is so expensive ($3000-probably close to the same procedure your dog had done). Though he already had his tumor surgically removed, but our vet wasn’t able to obtain clean margins, plus we didn’t know that it was malignant then. I guess Jack’s cancer is most likely undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma, but there is a small chance that it is amelanomic melanoma. If it’s melanoma then the vets at UW suggested the same treatment that your dog went through. I seriously can’t believe the cost of treatment! The cheapest (and least effective for his type of cancer) treatment is chemo and will cost well over $1000, and the recommended radiation almost $4,000! If I had the money he would be worth every penny; it makes me feel so awful thinking that money is the only issue (however dwelling on it doesn’t help either).

    Did your dog have any symptoms of cancer other than the tumor? Also, did you try any supplements with your dog? Though I’m skeptical I’m willing to try anything that will help (as long as it doesn’t hurt him either). I’ve been furiously scavenging literature the past few weeks (mostly Pubmed) and have started giving him turmeric and melatonin. Before I started giving him turmeric he developed a seriously dry, runny nose (and a tiny bit bloody). A day later it was gone! It might have just been a cold or his allergies, but in any case it doesn’t seem to be causing any adverse side effects.

    Hope your dog is still doing great and thanks again!

  • Maria

    Beth,

    I’m really happy you decided to take your dog to U of W. Weren’t they absolutely wonderful! What oncologist did you see, Dr. Ruthanne Chun?

    My Sadie was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma. They found a 3 centimeter tumor tumor in her upper left jaw, and the cancer had further spread into her jawbone and cheekbone. However, nothing else showed up on her cats cans and/or lymph nodes, or anywhere else in he body. Although could always be microscopic cancer cells (not seen on cat scans) somewhere else in her body that just haven’t metasticized yet. They did remove the lymph nodes by her jaws just as a protective measure.

    Do they want to remove Jack’s jaw? Are you going to do it even though it’s very expensive? If so, don’t be terrified like I was. Jaw removal is not uncommon among dogs and they do a lot of them at the U of W. My Sadie was just fine a couple of day after her surgery and has absolutely NO deformity. They removed her upper & lower left jaw, plus her cheekbone all the way up to just below her eye, and you can’t even tell!

    What is the difference between Soft Tissue Sarcoma & Amelanomic Melanoma with respect to prognosis and treatment? Have they suggested the ONCEPT VACCINE?

    The only symptoms my dog had before she was diagnosed was difficulty eating and drinking water. She was also less energetic, sort of lethargic, obviously because she was in pain and discomfort. I finally took her to the vet thinking that she just had a bad tooth or something. I never thought it was anything more, and therefore I was shocked when they told me she had oral melanoma with only 1 to 3 months to live.

    Now after her surgery, radiation, and the ONCEPT vaccines, she’s acting totally normal again, eating like a little pig, running around playing, and driving my other two little dogs crazy. I’ll be taking her for her 60 day check-up right after Christmas, and I’m praying that the cancer hasn’t come back or metastisizes somewhere else in her body.

    Let me know what “Supplements” you suggest I give Sadie. I’d be interested in hearing about them.

    Keep in touch and good luck!

    Maria

  • Bob Irwin

    Our dog is taking melanoma vaccine for oral malignant melanoma, and we are very hopeful. He also has a bad back, and most effective treatment is prednisone (20mg twice per day when he has a flare up) – which started a couple of days ago. I know that prednisone can suppress the immune system. Is it OK for him to take this level of prednisone at this level without compromising the effect of the vaccine? He is a musky mix and weighs 85lbs.