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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

DNA Discoverer Watson Echoes Our Dog Cancer Approach

Updated: October 8th, 2018

Its all over the news wires.

James Watson, the Nobel Prize winner for his work in helping discover DNA’s double helix, is repeating what we have been been advocating for years in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and this blog.

One of the best ways to help deal with cancer is by targeting a mechanism that can help affect all cancer cells. This involves turning on genes that create a type of cell death called apoptosis.  Apoptosis is a very quiet, normal process whereby aged, damaged, or diseased cells commit genetically programmed cell suicide at the right time, allowing their parts to be recycled for use in new cells.

It turns out that this process can be deliberately targeted in an effort to create this type of cell death in cancer cells.  It is a logical method of decreasing the burden of cancer cells in the body. The typical methods of attacking cancer cells used in conventional veterinary medicine (chemotherapy and radiation) aim at dividing cells.  Cancer cells do divide rapidly, but unfortunately body cells also divide, and those that do so most may be damaged by our treatments. This may occur in the lining of the GI tract, the bone marrow, the skin, and so on.  This is not to say that the side effects seen in veterinary medicine are quite those seen in human oncology, as the doses are relatively lower, but they can indeed be significant from time to time.

The approach that is discussed at length in the Guide instead focuses on increasing apoptosis of cancer cells.  Here, the cancer cell can be targeted because they lack normal apoptosis, or cell death.  In other words, they are too old and deranged and should have committed suicide, but they don’t. They have genetic aberrations which allow continued division without cell death. They escape from normal apoptosis.

As it turns out, there are substances that occur in plants that are capable of selectively inducing apoptosis. These help normalize and support a normal process in the body, and so these compounds are in general very safe.  These compounds are called the dietary apoptogens.  It is this strategy that was used in the design of Apocaps, which was created to aid in supporting this normal process in dogs in my practice.

Dr. Watson also made a statement that mirrors our activity in the dog cancer space, including some very hostile feedback years ago when some of the ideas in the Guide and on this blog circulated the medical community: “”The biggest obstacle” to a true war against cancer, Watson wrote, may be “the inherently conservative nature of today’s cancer research establishments.” As long as that’s so, “curing cancer will always be 10 or 20 years away.”  A very interesting statement, especially considering we still lack a cancer cure for systemic cancers.

However, at this time, our ideas are finally beginning to penetrate the veterinary community. We hope that we continue to get support from both Nobel Prize winners as well as practicing veterinarians and oncologists.


Dr D


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  1. Al H. on August 25, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Dr. D. Another update on K2. He is doing great. Cisplatin seems to work pretty well in conjunction with the Piroxicam. 5 days after the first treatment, there were no visible signs of the tumor externally. We’ve done 4 treatments of 350mg (for 120lb dog) and she thinks we are done. I did find a study that shows this combination is very highly effective. 25% CR, 50% PR, 25% SD on a group of 16 dogs. Bloodwork is all good. Urine is at the high end of density with high protein and high RBC. He still has never had a down day through all of this. The only side effect is he started losing fur after the 3rd round of chemo. I added Vetri-Science Renal Essentials to the mix early on in the treatments. I also read one vet suggesting adding supplements of the basics besides the little bit in PetTabs. So I added 1g Vitamin C and 50mg B complex to the daily list. Selenium, Zinc and Vit E weekly. The Holistic Vet added Cranberry to the mix to help the urinary tract. I added Potassium and Magnesium supplements along the way because they were low, and that brought them back in range. To get more fluids running through the system, I give him a special bowl of water that has a little bit of milk in it to make it a treat. I also found Apple Cider Vinegar in pill form and added that and a dollop of plain yogurt to his meals which seems to help the skin. This time last year before all the changes in diet and supplements he was a scratching chewing mess. Now he is looks and feels great. Last year he consistently had elevated WBC counts, now they are in normal range. Hopefully the immune system is fully charged and ready to keep the cancer at bay after the chemo.

  2. Al H. on May 28, 2013 at 9:08 am

    DrD, another update. The Oncologist said “keep doing what you are doing”. Sounded like good news. The alternative is she would want to start CCNU which would mess up the Melanoma vaccine, and I really don’t want to go that route. I want to build up the immune system so it takes care of him for the long haul.

    Blood work and Urinalysis all came back good from the T4 test. I had them do the full workup since we have been on the Piroxicam for 8 weeks.

    In the beginning I could sense the Piroxicam and Apocaps kicking in a couple hours after being administered. That has gone away, which could be good or bad. So, I added another Apocap at night making it 4. Since he is a solid 120 lbs and its once a day, it seems to be within the dosing Guidelines. The snoring and drinking and drowning sounds are diminishing again. While the Oncologist doesn’t seem to think the drinking and drowning sounds are related, they definitely seem to track along with the surgery and treatment. Does that make sense to you?

    This past long weekend I’d decided to do a couple Apocap only days. One day was 4 caps every 8 hours, and another day was 3 Apocaps every 6 hours. That was 12 caps in 24 hours and seemed inline with 1 per 10 lbs extrapolating the dosing to his weight. I could sense them kicking in the first day at 4 every 8 hours. So I think for the work week I’ll stick to Piroxicam daytime / 4 Apocaps at night, and do Apocap weekends to shake it up and breakup the Piroxicam usage. Let me know if any of that sounds like a bad idea, lol. I also re-read parts of your book and caught your comments on Beta-Glucan, and added that to the daily supplements in the morning.

    One note for anyone reading this is most of the additional supplements can be bought at Amazon’s subscribe and save program at an additional 15% discount (with 5 items). The funny part is I find myself taking some of these human supplements with K2. (I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way)

    So without taking x-rays, when have we won? One thought is that if allergies are linked to immune system issues too, I should be able to reduce the Benadryl during the height of the summer allergy season without an issue if the immune system is strong and taking care of problems on it’s own. Sound reasonable? Today I am reducing the dosage to see if I get an extra runny nose as a test. At some point I expect I should be able to stop the Piroxicam and go to maintenance levels of Apocaps. I did pick up some EverPup while it was on sale for the future maintenance plan. Any thoughts are welcome.


    • Dr. Demian Dressler on May 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Al,
      well, i’m not sure if the breathing sound is related or not, but if it goes away that sounds like a good thing. I think your plan sounds reasonable. Its hard to say what has been won without some objective measure like a test result or some behavioral indicator like appetite, energy level, and so on. But, like the onc says, it sounds like keep doing what you are doing. The beta glucans are a good idea too imo (under veterinary supervision).

  3. Al H. on May 12, 2013 at 5:42 am

    DrD, I figured I’d give you an update on K2. We still seem to be doing well. Externally and in the mouth, there are no signs of bulging. Some snoring and drowning effect after drinking has returned, but minor. I switched the Piroxicam to the AM and Apocaps to 11-12PM and increased it to 3 which also allows 3-4 hours after the meal. Better for both of us. I’ve also added 600mg Kelp (for the Hypothyroid), 550mg Ginger Root, and 150mg Milk Thistle (Liver support) with the evening meal. The one wart near the ear continues to shrink slowly. We only have a little clear discharge out the one nostril and he is still only 100mg/day Benadryl in allergy season.

    I went to Dr. Neubauer here in Cincinnati, alternative and conventional vet. I wanted to go over what we were doing, get suggestions and talk more about the Lactoferrin, Sea Buckthorn, Cordycep & Yunnan Baiyo protocol. He was all for trying and monitoring. He was all for the daily Yunnan Baiyo as part of standard treatment. So I’ve added the 29mg Lactoferrin / 931mg Colostrum (a hour ahead) and 500mg Sea Buckthorn at each meal. He liked what I was doing and also added MycoSurge twice a day (more mushrooms). Timing and life of Pro-oxidants and Anti-oxidants in the system is something I don’t have data on to know if they are interfering with each other. I’m keeping Neoplasene on the back burner for now. Oncologist checkup this week. We’ll see what she thinks of his progress.

    I am tempted to get another x-ray of the nasal area and blood work to make sure the organs are happy (he’ll need it for a T4 checkup here shortly anyways). I’d like to see what is inside too. I did see your video on anesthesia, so I need to make sure he is using the right stuff if we do. Original tumors that were removed were 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6cm Sinus, and 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.2cm Nasal. Both TCC. I’ll send an update if I get x-rays done.

    So over the past week I ran across the “Bill Henderson Protocol” for humans. Some similarities and some things that may not be dog friendly. His protocol cornerstones on the Budwig Diet (2:1 vs. 4:1 Cottage Cheese to Flax oil. Blending is critical for improved Omega 3 Bioavailability they say) and Beta Glucan (which seems similar to the mushrooms) as well as 5 other things. I’d be interested on your thoughts on the elements of BHP. It is listed in the NCBI database.


  4. Al H. on March 30, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I forgot to mention K2 is a 112 pounds, muscular, not overweight.

  5. Al H. on March 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Dr. D. I have an 8 yr old Black Lab “K2” with an interesting history. I found your book this month and have been studying it. Last May (2012) K2 had a growth on his rear toe. Diagnosed Toe Cancer – Melanoma. Pre-surgery blood work came back Hypothyroid. Toe was removed, no metastasis, started with the vaccine. No problems. Started on Soloxine. He has been a snorer at night at least for the past year, he seemed to have food (constant scratching and ears infections) and seasonal allergies. I started giving him 2x PetTabs, DermaStrength (4x), 2000mg Fish Oil a day for the skin. During the summer, we were up to 6x 25mg Benadryl a day (3 twice a day w/ the Siloxine). In the late fall I couldn’t ween him off the Benadryl like I had the summer before. I switched to BB Wild Salmon. Food allergies seemed to be better, but still there. Nose bleeds in October and November, the vet said allergies and maintaining the 6x Benadryl kept the nose dry and nose bleeds away (a missed warning sign in retrospect). K2 also developed a drinking issue where he sounded like he was drowning after drinking. The Oncologist said big dogs get that. Ok, no problem. We had been trying different foods trying to find which would work I finally asked for a allergy test (I like having data), and found HP grass and LP Fish (doah) amongst other things. Vet wanted to put him on Purina HA, so he was on that Nov -> Feb. Now that I had allergy data started transitioning to BB Wild Duck which has been very positive.

    So 4 weeks ago I notice a bulge on the nose by the eye. I look in his mouth and it’s bulged there too. I took him in. X-rays of the Chest still clear. They did a Nasal Biopsy and he removed a large chunk of the tumor. No more snoring. Tumor came back TCC. That’s when I started my second round of research and found your book and started reading it. It all started coming together. I had a suspicion that the great lawn service (now canceled) might be a problem, round 2 strengthened that suspicion, and your book nailed it. I found TCC linked to lawn chemicals elsewhere on the web (Purdue study). Diet and supplements, I was on the right track and didn’t know it, but the book made it clear what and why. I am wondering if the Purina HA interval is what made the tumor come to life, because I think it was there last year with all the snoring, kept at bay with the better food and supplements. There is nothing natural about HA.

    So for almost 2 weeks now, we are on 14mg Peroxicam with the evening meal, 2 Apocaps 2+ hours after the morning meal. The meal is BB Wild Duck, supplemented with 1/4c cooked Broccoli – Cauliflower mix, 1/8c Budwig mix, Pet Tab, K9 Immunity Plus, 1000mg Fish Oil, Siloxine, 1 Benadryl, 1 DermaStrength. At bedtime I started giving him 5mg Melatonin.

    Here is the cool part, I think, he had a new little wart on his nose start 4 weeks ago, it is gone, another small wart that has been around a while on the other side is shrinking. He had another wart that starting to grow pretty big (6mm) near the ear is shrinking. While they were considered non-cancerous, I think they are indicators that we have turned the tide in our favor. K2 is breathing through both nostrils fine. I could possibly quit the Benadryl now. The drowning noise after drinking is now gone! I am wondering how the next T4 test will go. I am really wondering if all his issues stemmed back to unseen internal tumors. Do you think that is possible? Could they be shrinking that fast?

    My oncologist is old school but I think she is very good, and my vet is open to new ideas but hasn’t gone down this path. He did say he met you at a conference awhile ago though. We’ll see if this gets there attention as we go back for checkups.

    K2 hasn’t had a down day through all of this either. I want to make sure I have all the guns possible taking this out though. So, I am continuing to evaluate whether I should try low dose Neoplasene oral. Yunnan Baiyo worked great post surgery for stopping the initial nose bleeds and I’ve been reading that is may be a good ongoing supplement to make sure the cancer is eliminated in surrounding bone structures. Would that be a good thing to give him also? Two other supplements that I didn’t find in the book that seem promising are Lactoferrin and Sea Buckthorne (Gippofain). I’ve been careful to make sure that what I’ve done so far are non-interfering and I wanted to get your take on these as possible supplements as well. What do you think of those?

    Sorry for the long story, but I appreciate the book, this site and any help may may offer.

    Amelia, OH

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm

      Hi Al,
      sorry to hear about your doggy…
      lactoferrin has not been used to my knowledge in the canine. I don’t use it and it has anti oxidant effects…which can mess up pro oxidant therapies like apocaps, chemo, neoplasine, etc. It in definitely an interesting molecule! The sea buckthorne has the usual antioxidant, anti inflammatory etc etc effect seen in a variety of botanicals, so I’m not particularly stirred by it.
      The low dose oral neoplasene is a judgement call. No correct answer. I would love to know whether the residual tumor in the nasal vault is growing or shrinking post-op. Is there a way to tell based on imaging or nasal endoscopy?
      I’d lean towards using about 1/4 the recommended dose of oral neoplasene under vet supervision if you cannot tell where things stand (trends post op). I would definitely use it along with mirtazapine or similar antiemetic.

  6. Brenda on March 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Hi – our 6-1/2 year old boxer, Gracie, was just diagnosed yesterday with intermediate lymphocarcinoma (I think that is what it was called) – we are heartsick – I have spent all of today research Dr. Dressler’s book and info and I feel like we have a chance – this dog is totally loved and has had many, many prayers during the 8 days it took us to get a biopsy report from Cornell University – where Dr. Dressler graduated from. We are going to start on the diet tomorrow – has anybody tried the Halo or Hills ND – our pets (we also have a Pug) have been eating the Chicken Soup Diet – not grocery store food, but what we were told by the owner of this feed mill is that it was good quality food – ????? Brenda

  7. Steve & Carolyn Burry on February 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Hi Linda,

    We too have an 11 year old female Golden Retriever who has a nasal tumor. She was diagnosed over two years ago, in November 2010, and we took her to Colorado State University where she went through 3 high doses of pin-pointed radiation (Sterotactic Radiation Therapy…SRT) No side-effects at all because the SRT only targeted the bad cells, not the good cells. It completely disappeared for 10 months and reoccurred, about half the size this time. We then took her to Madison, Wisconsin where she underwent two weeks of the newer version of SRT, called Tomotherapy. We take her for a CT scan every three months and it’s been 15 months since her last radiation treatment and her tumor has not grown. The tumor is about the size of your pinky nail, and has not caused any visible deformity to our angel, Payton. We did try one dose of chemo, but she didn’t take to it well at all, so we stopped.

    The entire oncology team at CSU, (Dr. Susan LaRue) and the Univ. of WI, Madison are excellent…..Dr. Vail, Dr. Wouda, Dr. Stein and everyone there.

    We also give her an herbal supplement called Artemisinin. It too causes Apoptosis and is supposed to kill some forms of cancer cells. Please google Artemisinin, Professor Henry Lai at the University of Washington, Seattle (he has done extensive research on Artimisinin), Dr. Jeffery Bryan at Univ. of Missouri Vet Hospital, and also the vet hospital at Ohio State University…….they all have conducted research of Artemisinin. We order Artemisinin from Holley Pharmesuticals. We also give Payton Mushroom extract and Turmeric, which are also good for the immune system.

    I have also contacted Dr. Dressler via one of his webinares, and he is also familiar with Artemisinin. Under his direction, we increased Payton’s Artemisinin dosage from 200mg to 600 mg a day about a year ago.

    Payton has been doing amazing…..still active, eats well, and we are so proud of her and love her with all our heart! We hope some of this information helps!

  8. Linda on February 1, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I enjoy your articles and have tried some of the diet tips. Some my dog will eat others not but I have stopped using canned dog food I would say 90% of the time. I cook chicken, fish vegetables etc. I believe it has helped her .

  9. Linda on February 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

    My beautiful dog Sasha who is aout 12 years old was diagnosed w/ a nasal tumor about nine months ago. The first vet just told me to take her home and love her and I guess watch her die. After the initial diagnosis from the head scan that she had rapid growing tumor it started appearing outwardly between her eyes and she was having troulbe breathing. I called around and found a Vet who was willing to ar least give another look. He did a cat scan and found indeed she had a tumor and did a biopsy and it was cancerous. Palladia was started and the tumor immediately started to shrink . She has been on it for 8months w/ a six week interval without it. When it was stopped the tumor started growing back with in 3 weeks. Now she is on it again and again the tumor went down. My question is what else can be done because it looks like the Palladia is the only thing keeping the tumor at bay but it is still there .

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      Sorry about Sasha. Have you considered radiation for the nasal tumor?
      All my best, Dr Sue

  10. Jesse Brown on February 1, 2013 at 1:54 am

    “”The biggest obstacle” to a true war against cancer, Watson wrote, may be “the inherently conservative nature of today’s cancer research establishments.” As long as that’s so, “curing cancer will always be 10 or 20 years away.” A very interesting statement, especially considering we still lack a cancer cure for systemic cancers.”

    And we continue to pure billions into the National Cancer Institute. It has become a welfare program for PhDs.

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