Oh man. This is going to make a lot of people in my field angry. Apologies to classmates and veterinarian friends!
I came upon this study from the August, 2007 journal Prostate. Probably not what a lot of us would be reading in our spare time, but I am busy with upcoming info products for dog cancer owners and I dig through lots of publications.
Here is the study abstract. The short story is the following:
Data was gathered from North American Veterinary Hospitals on male dogs that had been neutered (testicles surgically removed, or castrated), to evaluate the trend that had been noted in some older articles that neutering increased prostate cancer.
Because, if this were the case (and this is my comment, not the authors’), it would seem ethics demand that owners of male dogs were advised of this before consenting to neutering surgery.
Here is what they found. Hold your hats, folks:
1. Castration of dogs increases total malignant prostate cancer by over 3 times for some prostate cancers (prostate adenocarcinoma). So the answer is yes, castration does increase prostate cancer in dogs (which goes against what I was taught).
2. Castration of dogs increases the most common type of bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma) by eight times. This is huge!! Major, major, industry-shaking information, or it should be.
So what does this mean to you are considering castration of your dog (or he is castrated)?
Here are some overall statistics: Roughly 1 in 3 dogs will be affected with some form of cancer, and approximately half of those will die of it, at least based on the treatments that have been available up to this point (I believe we can do a lot better with what I call Full Spectrum Care). Anyway, 1-2% of all cancers are bladder cancers, the most being transitional cell carcinomas (there are rarely other types of cancer that affects the bladder). So if we put all these above stats together and average them out, we are looking at a bladder cancer risk in castrated dogs of 2 percent.
For more helpful information and tools, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide
Two percent is not a lot, but I neuter hundreds of dogs, and I see bladder cancer. Two percent happens! And the worst kind of cancer for your dog to get is…the one your dog gets, if you know what I mean.
Okay, the pundit gallery will argue.. but castration helps control the unwanted dog population, helps unwanted behaviors like aggression and territorial urination in undesirable locations, etc. Yes, yes, all true.
But, we must start informing owners of this, to use Al Gore’s phrase, inconvenient truth before they opt for castration of male dogs.
And that is one of the purposes of this blog!
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.