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

Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: some advances in conventional care

Updated: May 6th, 2019

Hi!  I have been getting feedback about mast cell tumors and I would like to get some info out there.  I will focus on some conventional medicine advances for the time being that should be thoroughly checked into by dog lovers interested in mast cell tumors. These are not general cancer recommendations, rather just a window to full spectrum care, which is a phrase I coined to describe evidence-based selection of cancer fighting weapons from any source. I will focus on Western (allopathic) viewpoints today.

First, the traditional treatment is surgery…get ’em out. I wrote about pre-treatment with Benadryl before surgery, in a previous post, so remind your vet.  Have any mass aspirated (needle biopsy) before surgery to diagnose most mast cell tumors so your vet surgeon has a general diagnosis before surgery.

Chemo consists of drugs like prednisolone, vinblastine, and others traditionally.  Chemo in dogs is tolerated better than in humans as lower doses are used for cancer.  The word “chemo” has a bad ring to it, but this is a prejudice developed from human medicine.  Dogs generally handle it better, on the average, although everyone is different.

Note: if you have a Collie or related breed, make sure your vet tests for a MDR-1 gene mutation common in these herding dogs. This genetic issue may increase chances of side effects not only from vinblastine (above), but also vincristine and doxorubicin. Doses of these drugs shoud be lowered significantly if your dog is positive on this test.  For more information, see the post on 8/30/08.

Predisolone or prednisone (“pred”, ) are cheap, common, side effects are most often not too bad, and they are tablets so you can change the dose easily depending on your dog’s responses. Vinblastine is a stronger chemo vinca alkaloid chemo agent, more potent than pred, which requires the dog to be in the hospital for injections.  Some oncologists like cyclophosphamide and L-asparaginase (you’ll get different opinions and preferences from different oncologists).   These are all used for mast cell tumors.

Some stats for Grade 3 mast cell tumors treated with surgery, pred, and vinblastine: At 1 year after surgery, 57% of dogs were still alive, and at 2 years 45% were still alive.  Average remission times are about 10 weeks to 5 months with surgery, prednisolone, and vinblastine. Remember, every dog is different, however.

Radiation is used for mast cell tumors that are difficult to remove completely, or any grade 3.  This can be high voltage radiation, or brachytherapy, which involves the use of radioactive implants within the tumor site. Yes, a little weird, involved, and costly, but long remissions in the literature.

For more helpful information and tools on Mast Cell Tumors, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Many are not into invasive care, so take a look below:

One that should be considered for a less intensive protocol is Lomustine or CCNU.  This drug has gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of years for good reason. It is a pill,and can be given every 3 weeks.  Pretty easy and non-invasive, unlike most chemo protocols, and is a single agent so it is simple.  About 40% of dogs with mast cell tumors respond to CCNU all by itself, which is pretty darn good.

Cimetidine should be used in dogs with mast cell tumors, especially those with decreases in appetite or vomiting.  This is an antacid which kills two birds with one stone. Mast cell tumors cause excessive acid production in the stomach when they get bad, which cimetidine counters.  Additionally, cimetidine has some good anticancer effects that have nothing to do with acid stomach.  Finally, it is cheap and easy to get.

Ask your vet about intralesional triamcinolone.  They may have not used it before, so do not be surprised, but they can access the info easily (1 mg per cm q 2-3 weeks SQ). It is an simple injection of a form of cortisone that most vets will have sitting on their shelves.  It is not very expensive, and very common. Every 2-3 weeks, your vet can inject the mast cell tumor, or infuse the area where the mast cell tumor was removed, with a small dose of this drug.  The direct contact of the triamcinolone with any mast cells left in the body will blast them pretty good.

A new drug called SU 111654 (great name eh?) is being worked on at Michegan State University. Looks promising. There is also a technique out there  consisting of injecting the mast cell tumor sites with deionized water.  Cheap as dirt, but mixed reviews.

This post is just a piece of full spectrum cancer care for mast cell tumors folks.  There is a lot more, but I’ll let you sink your teeth into this…

Best to all,

Dr Dressler


Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. Linda on February 10, 2019 at 11:13 am

    My 8 yr dog 2 yrs ago mast cell tumor low grade 3 removed and been in Chinese herb w Benedryl and famotadine. Recently he had a cluster of seizures for a few days and now on Kappra. I have been cooking the full spectrum diet mixed w high protein low carb kibble. If I make base mix with flounder/cod do I need to supplement recipe with additional omega 3 oil and cottage cheese?
    It seems that there is not a diet formulated for seizure dogs either. Your duet is the most healthiest even compared to the keto.
    Thank You Linda

  2. Vicki Malick on September 6, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    My older female beagle has a red lesion on her upper lip bigger than a pencil eraser. What could it be?

  3. Diana Loken on August 31, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Dr. Dressler,
    My 9 yo female Chihuahua developed a lump on her right ear lobe earlier this year. Her vet removed it along with the majority of her ear and had it biopsied. It was determined to be a Grade III MCT. Unfortunately, it was also determined that the margin around the removed tumor was dirty. We were told this type of tumor is very unpredictable and may or may not grow back. In less than a month after the surgery, a pea size tumor was back on what remained of the ear. My daughter took her back to the vet on a Wednesday morning and was told we could take her to a specialist to have the remainder of the ear removed along with a large amount of surrounding skin. She could then have radiation. My daughter was told there was still a high potential of growing back and spreading microscopically. The vet told her the growth could be so rapid that we could wake up in the morning and the pea size could be golf ball size. We were told to treat her with Benadryl (1/2 of a 25mg pill 3Xdaily) & Pepcid (1/2 of 10mg pill 2Xdaily) to counteract the release of histamine. Friday morning the tumor had grown to just under golf ball size and is now also on her neck below the ear. I called the vet and was told if we don’t choose to immediately subject her to more surgeries and radiation, to watch for further symptoms. These being vomiting, lethargy, excessive sleeping, and anything else that isn’t characteristic to her. And I hesitate to put her through radiation because my brother had it earlier this year for treatment after having surgery for esophageal cancer. They had to stop the treatment because it was killing him. I’m afraid to put her through the agony my brother was enduring and making her final days unbearable. She still scratches the area when I’m not home until it’s bloody. Is there a cream I can apply to it in addition to the Benadryl for the itching? Is there anything else I can do to relieve the itching and discomfort she seems to be experiencing?
    Any advice will be so appreciated! I love her so much and want to do whatever I can to keep her happy and comfortable.

  4. Diana Loken on August 31, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    My 9 yo female Chihuahua developed a lump on her right earlobe earlier this year. Her vet removed it along with the majority of her ear and had it biopsied. It was determined to be a Grade III MCT. Unfortunately, it was also determined that the margin around the removed tumor was dirty. We were told this type of tumor is very unpredictable and may or may not grow back. In less than a month after the surgery, a pea size tumor was back on what remained of the ear. My daughter took her back to the vet on a Wednesday morning and was told we could take her to a specialist to have the remainder of the ear removed along with a large amount of surrounding skin. She could then have radiation. My daughter was told there was still a high potential of growing back and spreading microscopically. The vet told her the growth could be so rapid that we could wake up in the morning and the pea size could be golf ball size. We were told to treat her with Benadryl (1/2 of a 25mg pill 3Xdaily) & Pepcid (1/2 of 10mg pill 2Xdaily) to counteract the release of histamine. That Friday morning, the tumor had grown to just under golf ball size and is now also on her neck below the ear. I called the vet and was told if we don’t choose to immediately subject her to more surgeries and radiation, to watch for further symptoms. These being vomiting, lethargy, excessive sleeping, and anything else that isn’t characteristic to her. I hesitate to put her through radiation because my brother had it earlier this year for treatment after having surgery for esophageal cancer. They had to stop the treatment because it was killing him. I’m afraid to put her through the agony my brother was enduring and making her final days so miserable. She still scratches the area when I’m not home until it’s bloody. Is there a cream I can apply to it in addition to the Benadryl for the itching? Is there anything else I can do to relieve the itching and discomfort she seems to be experiencing?

    Any advice will be so appreciated! I love her so much and want to do what I can to help her without taking away her quality of life.

  5. Meagan on December 22, 2012 at 9:32 am

    My dog has a very bad swollen head and throat I gave her 20 ml of Benadryl its urgent it has swollen that fast in just a few hours I cant afford a vet but she is very important to me could she have cancer or does anyone know something I can do for her

  6. Jessica Finnegan on November 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    My female boxer Mickey is 6 yrs old and she has been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor. She’s had it since about April of 2012. It is about the size of a swollen dime. I am obviously hoping it is only a stage 1. She has an appointment to get it removed this Tuesday. I was just checking her for more possible bumps and I found two small bumps. One on her right leg and one under her right leg (armpit area) both very small. Could these possibly be mast cell tumors as well? And does that mean this has possibly spread through her body? She has had no symptoms and has been acting completely normal. I am just so worried for my baby. Any opinions would be helpful.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Dear Jessica
      definitely get those checked as well! Once the cytology or pathology report is back you can see whether you will need to take further actions on those masses. I would also read this post so you can start getting familiar with your “cancer toolbox”
      Dr D

  7. Francisca on November 30, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    my 7-year-old brittany spaniel mix was diagnosed with mast cell tumor 3 months ago. This is the third one in 3 years,( 2009-2012).

    The first mast cell tumor (one third inch wide-8 mm, I grade) was removed in the inguinal region in july 2009; the second one (one sixth inch wide- 5 mm, I grade) was removed from her chest in August 2011. The third one, on her chest again, formed mid-August…it’s again a tiny one (5mm x 6mm). It’s not been removed yet because most of the time it’s invisible or it appears as a very pale spot, so surgeons say they can’t see its margins clearly…The problem is the dog started to have gastric issues from july on (Her stomach has always been a bit delicate: she occasionally throws up gastric juices especially in the morning when she gets up) but now it happens more often, let’s say once or even twice a week…Can it be related, maybe because of the histamine release?

    At the moment I’m giving her 100 mg of curcumin twice a day, but I was thinking about introducing a quercetin/bromelain supplement for her…Can you help me finding the right dosage considering she weighs 8 kg…and what would be the dosage if, in the future, after the surgery, as a prevention supplement?

    Thank you very much.
    Francisca & Milly

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Dear Francisca
      you may want to discuss with your vet getting some imaging dones (especially an abdominal ultrasound) to see if there are internal mast cell tumors that could be creating the stomach upset with histamine excess. That is your first step. There are a variety of ways to help with tummy upset- famotidine, omeprazole, mirtazapine, and others. Antihistamines might help. slippery elm sometimes is useful.
      As to supplementation, you should read the Dog Cancer Survival Guide where all the supplements have been discussed for dogs with cancer.
      Dr D

  8. kaisa hegg on November 7, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Dear Dr.Dressler

    this is a great Blog. My rescue greyhound was diagnosed with nasal cavity mast cell tumor at the age of 2 year and 1 month. The Biopsy was done february 2012. Since then I have been trying to treat her holistic and she has been super fit. full of play and endurance but her tumor in her nose has kept on growing steady. I am now considering the drug Masivet but heard the dog have to have a mutation of protein receptor /c-kit, and my vets do not not want to prescribe me this simply because they never heard of the drug and does not know how to find out if she has this mutation that speed up cell division. Do you know how I can find out how she has this mutation,and even if she does not,can this drug still work ? I am based in the uk

    Guardian of Shasha

  9. Lynda on October 22, 2012 at 1:16 am

    My 13 yr old Lhasa apso Oscar was diagnosed with a mass cell tumor after the vet removed what he thought was an umbilical hernia. He had a follow up op after it was found that there were still malignant cells around the edges of the tumor.
    This was approx 6 mths ago.
    Oscar was like a puppy after this operation but about a month ago he began feeling off color and not eating very well.
    I made a routine appointment for 11th Oct to take him to the vet to have a check up and possibly blood work to see if anything had returned.
    On the days leading up to the appointment Oscar started vomiting small amounts of bile, this wasn’t unusual for him if he didn’t eat. On Wednesday evening 10th Oct Oscar brought back the whole of his dinner and continued to vomit throughout the night. It was clear slimy water. next morning I left him for 4 hours to go to work and when I came home he had died!!!!!
    He had had a blow out of blood and mucus and made his way upstairs and died. The vet diagnosed HGE .
    I am at a loss as to how my Oscar could take ill and die within hours. I am devastated.
    An anyone help me with answers to what could possible have been the problem.

  10. Laura on October 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Hello, i’d be so grateful for your input.
    My 11 y/o choc lab has been diagnosed with a low grade 2 MCT on his flank, mitotic index of 1. The vet removed some of it, but the margins were dirty – she now recommends a wide excision with a more experienced vet. she has prescribed Piriton an antihistamine.

    She dosen’t seem that clued up really, she hasn’t heard of apocaps (‘snake oil’ she said 🙁 – I have ordered them anyhow… Ive read your book and have started Dylan on the reccomended diet, I’ve heard good things about tagamet and benadryl treatment…but why has my vet not suggested this? Ive little confidence in her 🙁 I can buy these at the chemist, is it okay to give Dylan human meds? what should the dose be, and for how long should I keep it up?

    I really struggled to afford the first surgery, the second will cost over a £1000, so it isn’t really an option, unless i can think of a way..

    Please, please give me your thoughts and advise me of the dose and duration of the tagamet/benadryl treatment…I feel Im struggling alone here…

    I know you must have a million of these requests but I’d be so grateful for your input.
    Thank you SO much,
    Laura and Dylan

  11. Mike Heller on September 24, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Dr. Dressler
    My 10 yr old vizsla has had a history of fatty masses. However, a week ago, a hard, golfball sized mass sprung out, within a few hours, above her right shoulder. In addition, two more new marble sized masses are also evident. Took her to vet and awaiting results of needle aspirate. Bloodwork is normal. Since I have a feeling the mass will need to be surgically removed is there a great surgeon you can refer me to in northeast Florida ie Daytona to Jacksonville…and could also include Orlando?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on September 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Mike, I think I answered your question on my Facebook site. Await the aspirated results, so that can help determine whether cancer and the type. Then you can get to a surgeon or oncologist based on the aspirated results. Depending on the tumor type, you may want to see the oncologist before surgery in case we should be looking for spread before surgery, called staging. Also a good resource for an oncologist is http://www.acvim.org and click on find a Specialst. You can also ask your vet for a referral too. Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  12. Liz Miller on March 27, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Hello Dr. Dressler,
    My two year old boxer has been diagnosed with grade 2 mast cell cancer. He has had one tumor removed in October 2011 and one removed March 2012. The second tumor biopsy results came back with dirty borders. Both tumors were in the same area of the leg.

    I am interested in having the intrelesional triamcinolone injections for my dog. We live in PA and have a veterinarian who seems willing to do it. The article said every 2 – 3 weeks but mentions nothing about the amount of times it would need to be repeated. Do you know how many times the injection should be given?

    Also is there more specifics on the dosage? My dog has about a two to three inch incision. The location of the cancer is his left back leg at the backward facing knee…the hock area, in the hollow (like the hollow area of a human ankle). Best description I can give of the area. I can send pictures if you give me a place to send them to. I can get more information on the amount of tissue taken if you need it. Due to the sensitive area and the fact he will now have a lot of scar tissue would you recommend he be “put under” for the procedure?

    Also can this be done along with prednisone? He will be starting that once the incision heals.

  13. Would giving a dog worms help with mast cell tumors? on March 14, 2012 at 6:31 am

    […] can u tell if ur dog has worms?If my dog has worms, is there a chance i’ll get it?Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs: some advances in conventional careMast Cell Tumors in Dogs: some advances in conventional care#split {}#single […]

  14. debbie calvert on February 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Hi DR. Dressler, My dog just finished his 4 th melonoma vaccine for malignant melonoma of the mouth, We opted not to have 3/4 of his jaw removed, tumor growth was ablated twice, for comfort and odor control. Our oncoligist now recommends giving cyclopkhosphamide QOD, very leary about side effects he is exercising daily and has a great appetite. It has been 2 mos since diagnosis. Do you think it is a good idea? It was explained to us that it will help keep bad cancer cells from his vessels. Thank you. Debbie Calvert

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Dear Debbie
      I am sorry you are dealing with oral melanoma.
      not managing this case personally I cannot say if is a good idea or not, but it seems reasonable to me right off the bat. I would of course be doing a lot more…(you have read the Guide, right..??? )

  15. Mary McDonald on February 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I have written to you before about our 2yr old lab Farley and hope you can help once again. He has DJD in elbows and hocks as a result of OCD. He received stem cell therapy in March of last year. He had 2 Grade 1 mast cell tumors (2cm clean margins on abdominal tumor and 2mm clean margins on tail that resulted in amputation of his entire tail) removed on September 13 and only days after I discovered 2 very tiny lumps on one of his ears that come and go. He had a 3rd Grade 2 tumor removed from the inguinal area on January 27th and a biopsy of one of the lumps on his ears revealed it too is a mast cell tumor (the other lump on his ear had reappeared, but again vanished). His oncologist is recommending chemo (Vinblastin) for a number of reasons that include the location of this 3rd tumor. A rep from the company that sells the in-office stem cell treatment kit agreed that if he had an active tumor at the time of stem cell therapy, that the therapy may have aided tumor proliferation. In retrospect, I am quite certain that the tumor on his tail was active at that time, although we were not aware of it. The first two tumors had a mitotic index of 0 and the oncologist said that the 3rd tumor is quite inactive as well (I don’t know the mitotic index and haven’t seen the histology report yet). My concern is that the stem cell therapy in addition to the relatively inactive tumors may render the Vinblastin treatments pointless or perhaps invite another more serious onslaught of tumors. Two days following this most recent surgery, about a dozen more lumps erupted suddenly, all in the inguinal area. Most have diminished or vanished altogether. There is very little information available, and my follow up question to the stem cell treatment kit company has gone unanswered. Would you hazard a guess as to whether these tumors will continue to pop up in rapid succession if the stem cell therapy is involved? I have read that stem cells are more resistant to chemo. In light of that and since chemo is most effective on more active tumors and Farley’s are relatively inactive, is chemo futile. I feel sick to think that I enthusiastically agreed to a treatment I believed would help my boy, and that decision has now placed him in a life-threatening position. I thoroughly researched stem cell therapy prior to treatment and felt confident that he would be safe. Readers considering stem cell therapy for their beloved companions should be made aware of the risks in terms of undetected cancer. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Our next visit with Farley’s oncologist is on Monday. In spite of all of his troubles, he remains a happy-go-lucky loveable lab, albeit an obese one that drags me to the door of our vet and to the door of the teaching hospital he is being treated at (OVC, Guelph, Ontario) eager to meet all of the staff and other clients.
    Many thanks,
    Mary McDonald

  16. Angela Schofield on February 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    We just found out today that our dog Aubie has a growth assumed to be a tumor just above his left hind leg. I have been researching cancer in dogs since because the vet aspirated the area and said she is pretty sure it is cancerous but cannot tell us how bad it is until the tests return in a few days. My big concern is that the original sign of this started in November while we were away on vacation but by the time we got home the area had gone down and his demeanor was normal. Off an on since the area would swell but his demeanor and appetite never really changed other than him favoring his leg from time to time. Aubie broke this leg severely when he was six months old (he is now almost 10 years old) so we assumed (bad idea I know) that it was old age catching up to him. However, in less than 24hrs he stopped eating and refused to get up even to go outside. Does that mean that we should expect the prognosis to be bad since its been almost 3 months since the first symptoms occured??? I just want something to be optimitic about if possible. Thanks for any advice you can give us.


  17. Janel on January 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Hi. I have an 8 yr old Rottie who is the sweetest most affectionate dog I have ever had- I love him to pieces. He has always been a happy, healthy boy. Within the last 2-3 wks, my husband and I noticed a small (maybe almond sized) lump under his skin around his neck region. Over the last week, we found several more lumps, including a couple very small ones on the top of his head. I took him to the vet immediately, where they tried to do a needle aspiration on the several lumps we knew were there. When I picked my Rottie up and met w/ the vet, he reported that he was unable to get anything out of the lumps because they were too hard (all that would come out was blood). He said at that point that he didn’t necessarily think they were cancerous as they didn’t appear to be agressive types of tumors (but this was just his opinion as no pathology could be performed). He recommended that I keep an eye on the lumps and monitor growth, and if I felt necessary and/or if they were growing quickly, we would go ahead and remove. That was just a few days ago, and I have already found several more lumps, some bigger than others. Not only in the head/neck region now, but also on his left front leg and on his left rear leg (way high up, almost at the top of his “haunch” if that makes sense). I called my vet today to report this and to see what we should do (I’m awaiting a call back). My gut tells me this isn’t good (that lumps keeping popping up, and so rapidly). Is it possible these are non-cancerous? I don’t understand why all of the sudden they seem to be popping up everywhere… it almost seems like removing them would be futile as they just keep coming. Of course I want to do WHATEVER is needed and whatever keeps him as healthy as possible and in little/no pain. I guess I’m just looking for some advice as to what the possibilities could be, and some encouragement that we should try and get all of these lumps out asap. Thanks very much for any insight. I’m also going to look into some holistic approaches in terms of diet/supplement… maybe that will stop the spread of more lumps??

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Dear Janel,
      the important thing here is to get a diagnosis. Perhaps the way to go would be an impression smear of an abraded lump surface, or other testing (removal, biopsy, etc). Please insist on getting some answers!!
      Dr D

  18. David on January 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Danny is 11 years old and it started the back of his upper legs but there the size of soft balls. He has had them for years now and the one that’s humongous is where he was fixed. Also under his joints ( legs) these are the size of baseballs. + it appears 2 more are growing. All are around major muscle areas. BUT whats weird is he hasn’t lost his appetite + he still runs in the yard and likes to still go for walks. If these were cancer you would think it would effect him in many ways. We can’t afford to take him to the vet now. He eats home made dog food along with the other dog we have 4 altogether. Danny is part lab and part beagle but is about 80 lbs. looks like a rottweiler.
    He has 7 of these growths now

  19. barbara on December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    My pitbull had a grade 2 MCT on his hip removed last year, with clear margins. Now one year later, he has a MCT between his 2 toes on his hind leg. My vet would like to amputate both toes. Then start chemo. I only have one more day before the surgery. Is this the way to go?

  20. Gina on December 9, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Three years ago, my beloved dog was diagnosed with a grade 3 mast cell tumor on her muzzle. The tumor had spread to her local lymph nodes, and the doctors did not give us much hope. Nevertheless, we treated aggressively. The tumor couldn’t be removed surgically, because it was too diffuse (a bad sign), but they did remove the lymph node. We treated with radiation on the tumor and lymph node site, and we did a combination chemotherapy of vinblastine and prednisone. I sought the help of a holistic vet, and we put together a special diet, including herbs and supplements. Three years later, she is cancer-free. I know that this isn’t typical, and I feel grateful every single day. I am posting this only because, when I was so devastated and searched for signs of hope, I couldn’t find any. Everything I read seemed to suggest that my dog would not survive. The treatment was hard on her, and it was expensive, but the years since have been priceless.

    Danya, I wish you the best. My dog, Ella, was five when she was diagnosed.

  21. Dayna on December 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Hello Dr Dressler,
    My 4 yr old female yellow lab…..that I love more than any pet I;ve ever had has an aggressive form of mast cell cancer. We discovered an aprox. 10mm red wart-like bump on left back leg…muscle area. Initial biopsy came back grade 3. Our vet removed tumor w 3cm border and sent it off for biopsy. It came back as high grade 2 with clean margins. She has been taking benadryl, prednisone and tagamet from the initial biopsy along with antibiotic. We decided to treat her with prednisone and vinblastin, today was her first treatment. When I took her in today, our vet had just gotten the tumor profile. These are the results; MI=82; Ki-67=high; c-kit= I-80%, II-20%; c-kit mutation status= Exon 11. I know this is very bad. The vet checked her nodes with ultrasound before giving the vinblastine. They are normal size. I guess what I would like to know is should we even put her through the chemo treatments? My vet says vinblastine is tolerated pretty well, but I still do not want what is left of her too short life to be hell for her. What can I do to make it better for her? My heart is broken and I don’t want her to suffer.
    Thank-you for your kindness,

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      Dear Dayna
      I am sorry to hear about this. This is a treatment plan analysis question. Young dog and so I would tend to be more agressive personally as your girl could conceivably have a long life (not yet near her life expectancy). But it depends on what your priorities are. You need to get data on life extension and odds of risks, and what are these risks in your dog, and then decide whether these gains versus costs fit with your principles and needs for your dog.
      You should read the treatment plan analysis section of the Guide definitely.
      Here is a blog you may find helpful:
      I would be also thinking about diet and supplements too!
      Dr D

    • Meagan on December 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

      She is 5 years old and is a bulldog

  22. Hylke Walters on June 7, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Dear dr D,
    My dear Australian Shepherd, Jaeda, has been diagnosed with MTC in liver and spleen. The first one is 2,5 cm and the the other one is 3-4 cm. Only a week ago they were 0.5 cm and 2 cm, so it is growing very fast. My vet told me about Masivet but since it is very rare that MTC starts in liver and spleen, he has no record of results or any prognosis. I really don’t want to loose my dear dog, but i am very insecure about what to do. Considering the agressive way it grows, the fact that the tumor is already bleeding, I think there is nothing more that i can do. Please can you think with me, since you have the experience. What should i do?
    Warmest regards,
    Hylke Walters (the Netherlands)

  23. Michael on April 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Dr. D
    My 16 year old pug Vic has a mast cell tumor on her right hind leg. She’s had 2 mct’s removed before. One on her neck at age 5 and one on the same leg at age 10. Considering her age we don’t want to do surgery and chemo again. Her hearing is gone and her sight failing but otherwise she’s healthy. What noninvasive treatment or drug might be useful?
    We have her on benefryl twice a day.

  24. Bazzer on April 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Our 8/9 year old lurcher/german sheppard cross had a grade 2 mass cell tumour found last November and has been on Masivet 150mg, 2 pills a day, and the tumour has gone ! she has had no side effects in this period, it was the drug or to lose her lag, we took the chance and up to now it’s been very ( fingers crossed ) successful, the cost is £300 a month.
    Good luck

    • DemianDressler on April 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Dear Bazzer,
      this is good news! I was involved in some of the early use of this drug before it was approved here in the US and have had good results. Thanks for the input.
      Don’t forget diet, supplements, immune support, and life quality enhancement of course!! More in the Guide if you have interest in these options.
      Dr D

    • Gayle Wood on March 16, 2013 at 8:14 am

      With a sled dog kennel of Alaskan Huskies I have had several cases of cancer and any information I can receive is valuable. Currently my retired leader is receiving chemo for a MCT grade III. He’s in his third week of vinblastine, pred, and Benedryl. Amazing how the tumors (2) shrank.

      Thank you for all the information.

  25. Nancy Newman on February 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

    My beautiful 13-year old Italian greyhound has been diagnosed with having a mass cell tumor on her left rear leg and because of where it is they will be unable to cut out all the cancer. While the surgery and radiation treatment are very expensive (approx $6,000), I am also very, very concerned about the effect of the surgery and treatment and her quality of life. She is currently taking a steroid to see if they can shrink the mass, along with children’s benadryl, and Pepcid. They say her blood tests were very good, especially for her age. She has had a number of other tumors removed through the years and fortunately they were not cancerous.

    Can you please give me your opinion if we should go ahead with surgery and treatment, or if anything else can be done to help her.

    Thank you

    • DemianDressler on March 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Dear Nancy,
      the problem with mast cell tumors is that some are killers (not all, but some). I would get a good surgeon to tackle it and get those cells out. You might also consider a biopsy to see what the grade is (which determines how aggressive it is). This would give you the added info you need prior to a big surgery.
      I hope this helps,

  26. Judith on November 5, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Our almost 10 year golden retriever girl has had a number of lumps removed for the past few years. Last week she had 4 removed and a raisin sized black lump removed from a hind foot which appears only about a month old since she is bathed monthly and her body examined for lumps and bumps. We were told only that she has melanoma and that the margins were clear. She takes Rimadyl, Glucosamine, fish oil and flaxseed oil, had hip displasia which was corrected when we adopted her at 9 months. Otherwise, she is a happy with a good appetite, etc. There are mixed reports about Palladia and its efficacy. We are more concerned about quality of life for her. Yet, the only option offered us was the Palladia if available. What is the most appropriate and helpful treatment for her at this point? I have read your other comments and researched the web about all the alternatives. Thank you for getting back to me. Judith

  27. Donna Walker on August 21, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Dr.Dressler, It saddens me to report that the evening of August 19th JOSIE lost her battle with cancer. I am beyond sorrow. My heart is full of pain that this world had to loose such a tender soul such as hers.I may never have that deep of a friendship ever again.She was truly THE ULTIMATE GOLDEN GIRL. I’m getting angry now about a country that can’t do better than this for their pets. We all have a responsibility to demand better research and care for what for some is the most significant relationship they will ever have. Josie was not just our house pet.From the beginning as a puppy she didn’t want to be left behind so she would travel with us everywhere.Josie was content to sit in our seat while we “got our hair cut” or “ran into the store for milk etc.She didn’t care where she was going, just take me for a drive.Sometimes we would get her a dish or cone of fresh vanilla ice cream from the dairy farm. When she wasn’t busy watching over the homefront she was either out training at the Hunt Club to hunt and retrieve birds or she was out in the wild hunting and fetching birds. She absolutely loved life. Whatever, whenever, whoever-She Loved Everything and she loved well and Always with a good balanced energy. She just knew how to act or react in any given situation.My Husband and I are sure that she was here before us and came back to be with us and share our lives.I was Blessed beyond words to have the honor to care for Josie for 5 1/2 years. Rest now Josie for you and I will meet again, soon. XOXO Josie’s mommy, Donna Walker

  28. Donna Walker on August 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Dr. Dressler, Thank You for writing your book. I purchased it in June just after we learned that our Beautiful 5 1/2 yo Golden Josie was diagnosed with grade 3 mast cell cancer.Prior to that she had two surgeries and three tumors removed.One clean margin, one not so clean and one removed with a lymph node.We were not told of the severity of her disease at the time and only after searching on the internet did I realize that Josie was going to die soon.We switched her to a raw/rare food diet along with Transfer Factor and nutritional supplements then we found a holistic vet who performs kinesiology and she added some tinctures and detox drops for her food. It was about 3 weeks into that treatment before I realized that she wasn’t treating her for the cancer and Josies belly got hot and reddish/purple and 5 tumors began growing .She is now on LutiMax and 40mg. pred 2x a day and initially they were shrinking.Sunday night they blew up and two have hardened.She is taking something for liver support &.benadryl.Tomorrow we have an appt with a new Holistic Dr.My husband is against any more surgery and I am running out of time to save Josie from a horrible death.I think it is shameful that people who love their pets should have to waste precious time searching for the info to help their loved one.Why isn’t this information out there? The oncologist told us in June that Josie would be gone in 4 months and we should take her home and enjoy the rest of her life with her.She said we shouldn’t make changes to her diet because in the larger picture it wouldn’t matter.Josies favorite treats are cheddar cheese and vanilla ice cream.The oncologist said that if she enjoys it then give it to her.Those treats would feed the cancer and kill her faster! Well, in hind sight maybe she was right.Josie’s recent flare-up looks bad and after the pred and lutimax I don’t know what else there is to try.Please don’t stop spreading the word about alternative care. Everybody needs to be educated. Thank You again.Donna Walker

  29. Natalie on August 16, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    My basset hound, Georgie, is 6 years old and just had surgery for 3 mast cell tumors. (one on chest, one near profuse and one on side.) He previously had surgery for one on his chest 2 years ago. He had puppy strangles when we got him and in the past 2 years he has had a swollen muzzle and then a swollen leg which each led to a trip to the emergency clinic. We are childless and are so very blessed with him. He is truly our life. The vet has spoken to an oncologist about starting chemo but quality of life is of the utmost importance so that may not happen. What spice/supplement regimen do you suggest. I just started him on a half tsp of tumeric. Whatever you can suggest will be greatly appreciated- especially other clinics or doctors or trials. We just love him so much.
    Many thanks.

  30. Ray on June 30, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    Our 4 year old boxer had a fairly large grade 2 mast cell tumor removed from his lower front leg last year, and clean margins weren’t obtained. Our vet had wanted to go back in shortly after but decided against it when it healed up really well. Now there appears to be a soft, fatty lump above the surgery site. This area also swells up quite large from time to time, but only for a day or so before returning to it’s present state. We’ve gotten another needle biopsy done and are awaiting the results. My question is, since the surgery was 17 months ago, wouldn’t this area be cancer free, and what would cause the occasional swelling? The fatty lump hasn’t grown much in over 2 months, and I’ve read that liposarcoma grows fast, so I’m hoping it is just a lipoma. It doesn’t feel like it’s attached to the muscle either. Thanks, Ray

  31. Rosanne on April 28, 2010 at 6:08 am

    My Rottweiller/lab cross, Jake, turned 10 in February. That same month, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his toe as well as a stage one mass on his shoulder (I can’t remember the technical name for the mass, but we were told that it is the kind of cancer that generally does not spread). He had his toe amputated and the mass removed. He has recovered well from the surgeries, but we just found out that he has a mast cell tumour between his toes on his back leg (not the foot that had the toe amputated). The cytologist felt it was a stage one cancer. We’re reluctant to put him through another surgery and can’t really afford to keep undergoing expensive treatments (we’ve already spent $5,000). My vet suggested trying injections of triamcinolone. Would you recommend this? You also mentioned lomustine in your blog. Would this be something we should try in conjunction with the the triamcinolone? I realize that he has reached the life expectancy of a dog of his size, but I would like to give him at least a few more months if possible. The thought of saying goodbye is heartbreaking. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks – Rosanne.

    • Dr. Dressler on May 3, 2010 at 12:33 am

      Dear Rosanne,
      So sorry to hear about Jake.
      options I would consider (under veterinary supervision)
      1. Apocaps
      2. have your vet contact Dr. Albert Ahn at Ab sciences to see if Jake qualifies for compassionate use of masitinib
      3. topical neoplasine
      4. diet changes and the tons of other things in the Guide.
      Dr D

  32. Cindy Dougherty on March 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Dear Dr. D
    I would love to get your opinions on Nonconventional treatment I have a 6 year old American Bull Dog diagnosed with MCT Level 2 she has had 6 Tumor removals and still has several small ones on her. (Face, legs, neck) I did take her to the Oncologist where she went under treatment of Palladia. After several thousand dollars later she still has this cancer we stopped treatment due to the lack of funds. Last month I brought her back to my vet to have several tumors removed ( with a 3 month lapse) and consulted with the Oncologist today, she is stating that we can try Lomustine 60 Mg (1 40 mg, 2 10 Mg) or Vinblastine. and we wont even talk about the cost. I LOVE MY ABBEY. and want to do the best for her she is still young and full of energy. I have searched the Web for ideas and came across Nonconventional Treatment and was wanting your opinion of it.

    Thank you so much for a response.
    Cindy Dougherty

  33. brett g. on March 1, 2010 at 9:48 am

    DR D.


  34. William Wiegman on January 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Dear “Dog Cancer Vet,”

    I’d just like to get your opinion on my 8 year-old cockapoo Mandy. We recently learned that she has a Grade 2 MCT on her back right leg. Actually, we had been concerned about the lump on her back leg for a year and a half and we had our vet look at the lump on two different occasions. Both times, he told he he thought it was just a cist and not to worry. So, we trusted his judgement and didn’t worry. Then,a month ago, we noticed another growth underneath on her chest. This time, a different vet at the same clinic aspirated the growth and saw some round cells in the slide. So, per her advice, we had Mandy undergo surgery to remove the growth on her chest and, at the same time, we had the doc remove the lump on the back of her leg.

    We got the pathologist’s report on Monday, only to learn that the growth on her chest was just fatty tissue and the lump on the back of her leg is a Grade 2 MCT. Naturally, we were upset…but more so at our vet for not aspirating and detecting the lump almost two years ago! The report also said that the MCT has dirty margins – but they may only be “dirty” because the vet didn’t know he was dealing with a MCT in the first place and he didn’t cut a wide enough margin around the tumor. He only cut 1/2 centimeter instead of 2-3 centimeters.

    The report did have some good news – namely, that the mitotic index is less than 5. So, I guess that means we’re dealing with a “low-end” Grade 2.

    My wife and I (and the vet) were surprised to hear about the tumor – primarily because Mandy is such a healthy and happy dog, even though she’s had this tumor in her leg for nearly two years.

    After talking to the vet (who in turn talked to the oncologist), it seems like our best course of action is to perform another surgery on the leg, in the hope that this time around they will be able to cut more tissue and find clean margins.

    However, there is some concern that even if they perform the second surgery, the pathologist won’t be able to determine conclusively if there are “clean margins.” I don’t quite understand why they wouldn’t be able to tell. Do you know why?

    Before making Mandy undergo another surgery, we were thinking of having an ultrasound performed on her, to determine if the mast cells have already spread to the spleen and liver. If that’s the case, then there would be no point in going ahead with surgery.

    But, if the ultrasound comes back negative and we do the surgery, I think we will go ahead with radiation treamtent on the leg. I really don’t want to put Mandy through that but, like I said, the vet is telling me that even if they get clean margins this time around, it wouldn’t rule out the possibility of some mast cells still being inside her leg.

    What would you advise?


    • Dr. Dressler on January 9, 2010 at 7:32 am

      the ultrasound is a good idea. Painless, good information. If the scan is clean a wide excision, as you brought up, is a very good idea. Vaguely 90% of grade 2 mast cell tumors are cured with a wide excision (no radiation). Median survival time of dogs receiving conventional veterinary care with grade 2 mast cell tumors having a mitotic index under five is 70 months. Mandy is 8 years old. 70 months added on to that is 13.5-14 years of age. This is perhaps a year under average life expectancy (as a guess) for a dog like yours, in other words, close to a full life. Bottom line, I would look at these stats and decide whether radiation makes sense for you in the overall analysis of life expectancy and median survival times.

      “However, there is some concern that even if they perform the second surgery, the pathologist won’t be able to determine conclusively if there are “clean margins.”” This is due to micrometastasis:


      Hope this helps,
      Dr D

  35. karen frazier on December 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Dr. I desperately need some advise. This will be short and to the point. My male sheltie who just turned eleven the same day as we brought him in to the vets with vomiting and bloody stools and loss of weight. From blood tests he had eights times the normal liver enzeyme levels. He was put on medication for three weeks in which he took his medicine, ate only meat, pasta and not a large amount. He came in for his three week checkup which the doctor stated that the liver takes a while to get well for she thought he may have a diseased liver.
    He was playing freesbe and seemed back to his old self and was shocked when she told us that some of his levels stayed the same but one actually increased a large amount.
    An ultrasound was suggested which we had done by a board certified vet who took a needle biopsy of liver and pancreas which from the ultrasound had a spot on the pancreas but the liver was enlarged.
    Sadly the report came back from a cytology lab offsite that all tests pointed in the direction of cancer of the pancreas but not a definite unless a histology report with surgery and that even was 100 percent.
    We have both lost our jobs but want to do every thing we can to help our boy.
    My question to you is can anything be done with such a rare fatal disease as far as the K-9 Immunity and Transfer Factor I have been reading that has dramatic results in cancer dogs. I am discourged for I haven’t read any blogs about a dog with pancreatic cancer recovering.
    We have limited funds and didn’t want to purchase medicine that would do nothing.
    I can tell you that I believe in miracles and even though the doctor gave him a couple of weeks to live he looks like a dog who isn’t even sick. He did vomit for the first time two days ago since we brought him in for the first time which really made us sad. The vet who gave him his ultrasound has him on a pain medication to comfort him and help his appetite. He is getting plenty of love and hugs and rubs on his tummy with our fingertips to transfer postive energy. We are also trying but not that successful a mixture of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil to help dissolve the cancer cells. We are giving him lamb and rice(dry dog food) and meat for his diet along with omega oil supplements.
    What do you think about the K-9 Immunity Critical Care. Please help my Mcleod.
    Continue your passion for animals that this world so desperately needs.
    Thanks for everything you do for the God’s gifts(animals) who have no voice,
    karen in serverna park md

    • Dr. Dressler on December 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm

      I would like to tell you that I know of a cure for cancer that has spread in the body. The truth is I cannot say that and be honest. The best we hope for using supplements, diet, and the rest is improving lifespan and improving life quality. Rarely we get the “cures”.
      Will any supplement, including what you mention, cure your dog? The odds are low. You should use some milk thistle (human doses) and SAM-e (human doses). Give with only a little food, and make sure you run this by your vet first. You could also try the homeopathic carcinosinum but you would need to use a vet with homeopathic know-how:
      Get the carcinosinum from France, Germany or Holland if you can as they are superior to the ones made in the USA.
      Hope this helps,
      Dr D

  36. Ed Ballinger on December 10, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    I have a 16 year old Nova Scotia duck toller that has stage 3 mass cell tumour on his stomach. It was disovered about 6 months ago and we did a biopsy and removed it. It grew back in a few months and ever since we have been just trying to treat the symptoms due to cost and age.

    He is currently on benadryl, pepsid, and Prednisone daily. To control his tumour he gets a injection of Kenalog every 2 weeks. This works great for the first week and will almost totally remove the tumour, but after 1 weeks its back again. The vet even tried another type of steriod to see if that would last longer but it didnt work at all and after 1.5 weeks when I took him to the vet he could hardly walk sicne the tumour started to go down his leg.

    This kenalog injection works very well, and I am wondering if it is safe to have a weekly injection so he doesnt have to have it get so large the second week.

    Look forward to your thoughts.

    • Dr. Dressler on December 13, 2009 at 11:24 pm

      Ed, in my opinion weekly injections under most circumstances would be unhealthy. It does depend on the amount used though. You could see if you vet could dilute it down to half strength and perhaps the injections could be given more frequently.
      Dr D

  37. Lauren Porter on November 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Dr. Dressler

    I have a 8.5 year old female yellow lab. She has grade 3 MCTs. The first procedure was done with the vet we used to go to on a regular basis. This vet did a biopsy without doing the needle aspiration first. Once the vet began the biopsy, she found that the mass was attached to the bone and it was beyond her to fully remove. The mass was partially removed for a biopsy. While waiting for the results, the surgery site had become inflamed and eventually infected. I believe that the vet hesitated to recommend a specialist, which elevated the situation.

    Once I met with a specialist, I was told that skin around the site had to be removed – it was dead, black skin. This caused an open cavity on my dog’s back leg, with the tumor beneath the open cavity. Amputating the leg was not an option, since the cancer was already affecting her lymph nodes. But, the lymph nodes are not enlarged at this point. We have been working to heal the wound from the outside edges inward. We do bandage changes every day or every other day. Then we had a set back – my dog removed her bandage and got to the wound, upsetting the open site.

    At the same time, the MCT on her back leg has been a challenge to control. I have had Georgia on Prednisone from the beginning. We have tried Palladia, but the results were not encouraging and we have discontinued the used of that drug. We have considered other types of chemo, but it is a hard consideration with such an elevated grade of MCTs. We would only be extending her life by a couple of months. She has starting breathing heavily, so we are slowly reducing the Prednisone to eventually take her off the drug.

    Now the specialist would like for me to amputate her back leg, because the wound is too difficult to heal. This seems to be the only option that I have. But, I just do not believe that amputation should be a consideration, especially since her time with us is short. The reality is that she may not have enough time on earth to become acclimated to the lifestyle of a 3 legged dog – and then I have put her through more pain than she deserved in her last days.

    So my question is this: Is there any suggestions that you have for healing the wound or maintaining the best value of life I can give her while she is with us? Georgia still has a wonderful spirit, making the decision to put her down difficult from my point of view and the specialist’s point of view. We both agree that it is just not time. But I also think she has a personality that will be strong until the last breath. I just want to do what is best for Georgia and her quality of life. Thank you!

    Lauren and Georgia Dog

  38. mandi costas on November 12, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Hi Dr D

    My rottweiler Jack who I found dumped in the local streets 2 years ago was diagnosed with MCTs. We immediately put him on a Vinblastine, Chlorambucil and Pred treatment for 4 weeks. Post his 4 week examination the vet discovered that the treatment was not working as his lymph in his groin area grew to the size of a tennis ball. We subsequently stopped the Chemo and put him on Masivet which is a generic of the new wonder drug Palladia.

    3 days after administering, Masivet, Jacks condition deteriorated even more and his groin area swelled to twice the size of a tennis ball. His underbelly turned totally red and I rushed him to my local vet. oncologist who indicated that the MCT’s were releasing histamines. I was aware of Benadryl and its properties ( thanks to your blog) and suggested this to my vet, in acting as an anti-histamine. My vet’s suggestion was that he was uncertain as to the reaction of the Benadryl to the Masivet and for that reason did not prescribe it to Jack. 2 days ago Jack went into an anaphylactic shock in ICU and much to my disappointment and heartbreak he passed on. I subsequently have changed vets as I currently have another dog who has MCT’s and who is beng treated with radiation and would hate for the same thing to happen to him.

    The question I would like to pose to you ( as a second opinion) is as to whether Benadryl can be prescribed with any other drug and secondly was there anything I could have medically to prevent my adopted son “Jack” from his demise


  39. Cathy on November 11, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    What is the general prognosis for a Stage II MCT? I am finding little information on the in-between stages (and early lymph only mets) – just “favorable” for Stage I and “poor” for Stage IV.

    We’re going through chemo (vinblastine and prednisone) but I feel like I need to start preparing myself mentally now for the inevitable…

    Thanks so much.

  40. Lisa on October 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Dr. D,
    I just found a recurrence of a MCT on my 11.5 y.o. Chessie. We had a rather large tumor taken off his chest about 15 months ago. It was grade 3, and was removed with clean margins – no lymph involvement or mets. This new tumor is about the size of my pinky fingernail and is easily recognizable by it’s granular appearance. I’m keeping an eye on it, and it’s not a high growth tumor, but I can only see the surface, of course. It’s on his shoulder.

    I’m no stranger to mast cell problems, as I have Mastocytosis myself – it’s very rare in humans. I have it very well controlled with Pepcid, Doxepin and Ketotifen. (So I’m blocked on H1, H2, and H3)There are less than 20,000 cases of this in people in the US.

    I wonder if my Ketotifen would be of any value to my beloved canine kid. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but it’s an H1 blocker, with mast cell mediator properties. Would giving him this with Pepcid be of any help in perhaps keeping the MCT where it is, giving him the chance of a longer life?

    I can’t find a canine dosage on it, but my dosage is 4mg BID. There is some info on the internet that it has been used for felines with a dosage of 1mg BID.

    I don’t think that at his age that another surgery is an option – he didn’t quite come out of the last one the same dog. It set him back a bit and I don’t want to put him thru it, so we are trying to think out of the box without having a million supplements to contend with.

    A bit about him: he’s raw fed by the Billinghurst BARF model – no carbs. Just meat, bone, offal and vegies/fruits. Gets a nice variety of all kinds of meats: sardines, tilapia, beef, chicken, turkey, llama, goat, green tripe, lamb, etc. His treats are all protein: chicken feet, whole sardines, bully sticks, tracheas, ligaments, etc. He was a picky kibble eater, but never turns down a BARF meal. 🙂

    Any advice would be appreciated. He’s such a good boy – we’d like to see him have a good quality life as long as possible.

  41. chris on August 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

    My lab has just received her first treatment of lomustine. I have a golden retreiver in the home too. When my lab goes to the bathroom in the back yard, should I be concerned if my golden sniffs the poop? I also have a cat that goes outside during the day, but comes in the house with the dogs at night. Should I be concerned that the cat could bring an infection back with him that could affect my lab?

  42. kim on August 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler. Jack had his appt at the U.G.A. vet school yesterday. The result of their staging process was that Jacks cancer had not spread.They recommended removing all the masses and no chemo. The miotic Index was 6.Tonight JACK VOMITED AND HAD DIARRHEA. He never has this problem. I am so worried. Is it possible that it was the anxiety caused by his exam( he was VERY upset afterwords) or the drugs used for sedation?He was very upset today also( the day after).It also stormed today, which really upsets him. Thanks for all of your help.

  43. Mich on August 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    My boxer boy has too many MCT’s to remove at this point and I’ve been digging around for alternatives. We have had several removed and tried chemo but unfortunately they just keep coming back. I was just wondering if retinoids are ever used in treating MCT’s? Something like 5-FU or Panretin (topical retinoids used in humans for skin cancer or Kaposi’s sarcoma)? He is getting supplements (Omega 3 fish oil, quercetin, milk thistle etc) and good food but I would still love to be rid of the lumps … somehow!

    Thanks for your help,

  44. kim on August 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    My 8 year old lab mix Jack has been diagnosed with a grade 2 mast cell tumor. The vet said this was nothing, twice.The initial lump was there a year and was never larger than a bean. He finally realized it was something when other very small lumps popped up and I had a sobbing fit in his office . He removed 5 lumps all very small. I’m seeing an oncologist ASAP , I just want to ask, is there any hope this has not metastisized?

    • Dr. Dressler on August 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm

      indeed, there is hope!
      Many grade 2 mast cell tumors have not, and will not metastasize at all. You can get more information about expected behavior by finding out the number of mitotic figures per high power field from the pathologist doing the biopsy report. The vet will know what I mean…

  45. Laura on August 8, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I decided to try some alternative treatments prior to chemo and all that. I started Drew on cimetidine and will be adding fish oil and turmeric. The Turmeric I got is a 400 mg. capsule. How many of those would she need in a day? Thanks.


  46. Laura on August 7, 2009 at 4:31 am


    Not sure if you are still giving out advice, but thought I’d give it a shot. I’d appreciate any you have.

    My dog Drew is a 9 year old Golden Retriever recently diagnosed with Mast Cell tumor on her elbow. It has grown quite quickly. Measures about 6x6x8 cm (almost baseball size) and it’s in a very difficult spot to do surgery and almost impossible to get clean margins. Skin grafting would be involved and there is the possibility of losing her leg altogether. This is a risk I am not willing to take for a dog her age. The surgeon/oncologist recommended a course of Pred along with Vinblastine to try to reduce the size to make surgery more successful. I brought up the possibility of using Palladia. They have it in stock, but only used it on a few dogs before and believe you get better, quicker and longer lasting results with the Pred/Vin combo. Just wondering what your thoughts were on that. The tumor has not been biopsied so I know nothing of grade or stage.

    Can you please tell me how these two treatments compare as far as effectiveness, side effects, length of treatment, cost, etc. I suppose much of this may be individualized to the dog. We went ahead and put her on cimetidine and I will definitely remember about the Benadryl when it comes time for surgery. Thanks so much.


  47. TaMara on July 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Wow,thank you, thank you, thank you Dr. D & Blog Guest!

    Sammy and I, my black schnauzer/lab/chow mix doggy, just left the vet’s office where she confirmed he has a second MCT. Sammy is almost 10 years old, weighs 65 lbs.(the most he’s ever weighed) and had his first mass removed in May. I don’t know if the vet used Benadryl before the surgery, but I will call tomorrow and ask.

    The mass was about the size of a lime, if you slice it in half. However, it seemed to become smaller at times and then large again as quickly as the next day, during the month and a half between diagnosis & surgery, because our vet told me it was not urgent. It was diagnosed Stage 3 Mast Cell cancer when the lab results came back, post surgery.

    I immediately started searching the internet for information. I found a lot of positive feedback for Holistic treatment. I started Sammy on an all natural, holistic immunity supplement and we are still transitioning to an all natural holistic diet (Innova), started almost three weeks ago. Sammy seemed to be responding well to the changes and his energy levels are back to pre-discovery of the first lump. His coat and appetite are great.

    I discovered the second lump a few days ago under his left armpit, as I was giving him one of those all over body scratch/rubs, that dogs seem to crave all the time, or at least my dog does.(smile) The first lump was on his left side, just below the top of his back, about 3/4 of the way down his back from his shoulders.

    The information I’ve learned from this site so far, is far beyond the combined information from our vet and my research on the internet.

    At today’s visit, our vet recommended visiting an oncologist and starting the new Palladia drug or surgery. Learning that these are not the only options is a prayer swiftly answered!

    Sammy’s quality of life is most important to me!

    Thanks Again,

    Sammy & TaMara

  48. Amber & Tabasco on June 5, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Hello there,

    First of all, thanks so much for this blog.

    Second, the back ground. Tabasco is a 6 yr old male boxer. A grade 1 mast cell tumor was located on his testicals sometime in late Feb. or early Mar. On April 17, we completely removed his testicles at which time we got the grading of the tumor. Clean margins with that surgery. A x-ray and ultrasound of his body cavity was also done post surgery when the results came back and he was clear. On May 26, 2009 a second tumor was identified on his left hock and that was removed that day. Came back as grade 2/low MST, dirty margins. I know this is not a great prognosis, but at this point I want to prevent the MST from spreading throughout his body.

    The vet recommended applying a bloodroot salve to the excision of the tumor that came back with dirty margins to remove any remaining cancer cells. Do you have any experience with this? What is your opinion? I have found conflicting opinions on the internet. Very positive from pet owners and absolutely horrifying from human use. I’ve seen photos of peoples noses sloughing off.

    We did apply it yesterday to the tumor excision site. It seemed to cause pretty severe discomfort for Tabasco so I washed it off about 3 hours before the recommended time. The discomfort lasted even after it was washed off and the site was swollen this morning. I guess that is what you are supposed to see?

    Any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated.

    Amber & Tabasco

  49. Kevin on June 1, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    My 10 1/2 year old female Black Lab “Fire” was diagnosed with MCT last October after a lump appeared on her left rear leg. Surgery showed it had spread to the nearest lymph node and both the lymph and the tumor were removed in October. She was immediately placed on prednisone and we have since weaned her to 1/2 a pill every other day. There has been no re-occurrance of the MCT, now seven months post-surgery. Fire also has arthritis, and had responded well to Rimadyl prior to the cancer diagnosis. We had to take her off the Rimadyl due to putting her on the Pred, and we subsequently put her on Tramadol for pain. Her arthritis seems to have gotten worse since the surgery, and we are wondering if it would be wise to stop the prednisone treatment and Tramadol, and put her back on the Rimadyl. Is it possible that her cancer could be in remission after seven months without any signs or symptoms of it’s reoccurring?

  50. John Lilli on May 29, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Dr Dressler:
    My 11 yr old greyhound has been recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. They are unable to surgically remove it do to the location in her lower jaw. Recommendation is radiation which I will know the schedule today of what they think should be done. What about non-conventional medicine, such as turmeric, and artemisinin can they be used together. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


  51. Diane Krzyzanowski on May 20, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler –

    Our beloved/precious 15 year old Shi-tzu was found to have a tumor on her toe about 3-4 months ago. It then spread to her thigh. It remained fairly quiet when we took her to the vet – they were going to take a biopsy – but she was found to have mild to moderate kidney failure.

    About two weeks ago, the area on her leg became very enlarged and red. We took her to the vet and that day they found two tumors on her stomach. They took a biopsy and it was found to be mast cell cancer. She has been eating pretty poorly over the last month – that is when I started supplementing her with “Quick Start” high calorie supplement for dogs.

    Two weeks ago – when we got the mast cell cancer diagnosis – I began giving her K-9 immunity power pack. The tumors on her abdomen have enlarged over the past week. We are TRYING”EVERYTHING”……………………………….to HELP HER!!!!!

    Do you have any thoughts or recommendations??? THEY WOULD BE ‘profoundly” appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!!
    Diane Krzyzanowski

  52. Catherine on April 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    My beloved bullmastiff, Lucy, has been living with a diagnosis of multiple grade 2 mast cell tumors since November of 2006. Lucy is now 7 years old.

    She has been on Chlorambucil off an on since her diagnosis. The first time she went off of the drug because her lumps had been resolved for approximately 6 months. Sadly, they returned after 3 months and so we started giving her 4 mg of Chlorambucil per day again.

    Lucy has twice been taken off of the chemo because, as you can guess, her white blood cell count dropped. She was taken off of the the chemo last August and her white cells rebounded quickly. In the meantime, she was treated as needed with low doses of prednisone (5 mg per day). However, in January the tumors began popping up all over and we put her back on the chemo. Now her white blood cells have dropped again and so, again, we have taken her off of the chemo.

    Lucy takes a multi-vitamine, fish oil, vitamin E, Benadryl and Pepcid every day. Is there something more I should be giving her? Is there something I can give her to help her bone marrow?

    Lucy’s skin itches her and she has developed very dark patches on her belly where her legs and tummy rub together. She licks it all the time. I have a topical treatment but it doesn’t really do much.

    Lucy is 94 lbs and that is actually big for her frame. Even though she is a bullmastiff, she is a small one. Her appetite is great. But her tummy has always been sensitive – since she was a puppy. I have heard that virgin coconut oil may be good for her skin. Is this true? If so, what should I get and how should it be administered?

    Please let me know if there is something I should try for her bone marrow and/or her skin. I will do anything for her.

    Thank you very much for your time.



  53. Kristen on April 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,
    I have an 11 year old Weimaraner that started getting MCT’s when she was 2. Every other year, she has to go in to get two or three removed at a time. In the past, I’ll notice the larger one (usually about the size of a dime) and my vet will find one or two tiny ones during the examination. Her last surgery was in 2007 to remove 3.

    This time around, I noticed a large lump pop up on her right rear leg in January. Then a tiny one appeared on the top of her head and another small one on her front right leg. The difference this time is she has been obsessed with licking the one on her rear leg to the point where the skin on top is rubbed raw and it bleeds. She recently started licking the one on her front leg and it started bleeding too.

    I took her in for her annual visit and my vet seems to think they are all MCT’s, based on what they look like and her history. He’s very concerned with the one on her back leg due to it’s location, size, and the ability to get enough margins around it.

    I need someone to be very frank with me and tell me what can happen to her. Money is very tight right now and I don’t have extra cash. I will do everything in my power to get them removed, but I don’t know how much time I have considering her age, their size, her licking them, etc. Have you ever heard of a dog licking them like that? Thanks for your great site and information.

  54. Andrea on April 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Hi Dr Dressler-
    I’ve recently discovered what appears to be two dark skin tags, one on the back left leg and one on the back, and a small lump slightly larger than a pea near the ribs of my seven year old pug Iggy. My boyfriend and I have just moved to a small town and have enjoyed our new veterinarian. His bedside manner is comforting, he seems knowledgeable, and the staff is very sweet. Today we took Iggy in to look at the skin tags and lump and decided to schedule surgical removal and biopsy of these growths.

    I myself am a nurse and wanted to be prepared to discuss all possible options with the vet and had read about MCTs and corresponding treatments before our appointment. I voiced concern about possible MCTs and followed up with asking about the anesthesia he uses for surgery. He detailed pre-medicating with Ketamine and I believe Fentanyl with Isoflurane during op.

    I mentioned the Ketamine/ metastasis connection and also pre-medicating with benadryl due to possible histamine release. Both suggestions were basically pooh-poohed as something he’d never heard of (the ketamine) and that the growths were too small to release sufficient histamine for benadryl to be needed. Now I’m afraid he thinks I’m an internet junkie who can’t seek out reputable information… I realize that Iggy hasn’t been diagnosed with mast cell tumors YET but pugs are susceptible and I want to take all precautions.

    I have two quick questions.
    1) Would it be safe to give Iggy OTC benadyl the night before surgery if Dr won’t give IV? He’s 17 lbs and the dosage suggestion I’ve found would be 10mg po.
    2)How hard should I push the ketamine issue? Should I go to another vet?

    I’m also including one of the few articles I could find regarding Ketamine and Metastasis from Anesthesia and Analgesia. Hope this is helpful to others out there with skeptical vets!

    Thanks again,

  55. jantmccon on April 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    it can spread to the other organs ,,according to my vet


  56. jan on April 19, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    Thanks for a great site! My 8 1/2 year old lab had a Grade 2 MCT removed last year (under front leg), now she is coughing which the vet has treated a potential low grade pneumonia, however after 4 weeks it is not responding, it is getting worse if anything. My question would be and i understand you can’t give specific advice so will try and keep this generic:

    Do MCT often spread to the lungs/chest? (lymph nodes in chest), if it has spread to the chest i’m worried her end will be particularly unpleasant (choking), is this likely with a MCT on the chest? What is the best way to appraoch MCT if it is the chest in your opinion?

    many thanks for your help. Please keep up the good work!

  57. Joanne & Cassie on April 16, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler:
    I was wondering if you could please address my question on bloodroot.
    Thanks so much.

    Joanne & Cassie

  58. Barbara on April 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you for this wonderful site.

    I have a 7 year old yellow lab who just had surgery for a stage 2 mast cell tumor. My vet said the margins were clear.
    She has not recommended any further treatment. I have been researching and switched his food to Eagle Pack Salmon Dry Food and grain free Wellness canned food.

    DO you think this food is a good choice for him?

    Also he has never shown any signs of allergies at all, should I consider giving him benadryl anyway? I have read so many reports that this helps the Mast cell tumors. Unfortunately I found your site too late to give him benadryl before his surgery.

    Also I have researched the Professional Vet Immunity Tablets and K-9 Immunity do you feel this would be beneficial to him??

    Should I give him additional fish oil tablets??

    Thank you for any advice you can give me. I feel there should be something else I should be doing instead of just the surgery!
    Thank you so much!

  59. Lori Ratchelous on April 15, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    My husband and I adopted an 8yo husky/shepherd mix named Ike with a grade 2 mast cell tumor. He was being euthanized on a Monday morning and we took him in the previous day to try and give him the best life possible. He is truly amazing. He is going to have surgery to removed the lymph node as the tumor is no longer there (he chewed it off) and chemo will be given after he heals. I want to do everything possible for him and I feel very confident with both my vet and the surgeon. I do however feel I’ve been lacking knowledge in the area of diet. I’ve read some of the entries from above, but would please recommed a food, etc…? He is taking benadryl, pepcid, prednisone along with sucralfate daily and want to provide the best diet with interfering with his medications. Any information would be very appreciated and thank you for this wonderful blog.

    • Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 9:58 pm

      Some options are Innova Evo, ND food by Hills, Blue Buffalo.
      Change foods slowly by mixing over 7 days or more!!!
      I will discuss diet is the upcoming webinar, and will go over your question in more detail:

      • Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 10:08 pm

        Oh yes and Wysong now makes a cancer diet that seems good,

        • Emily on December 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

          Dr D,

          I have an 11 year old rat terrier that had a stage II mast cell tumor removed from his chest mid Oct. Our vet thought he got it all at that time but just over a month later another appeared in the same area (this one a little to the right and into his front right axillary area). Within just a couple weeks this tumor grew to about the size of a lemon. We decided to take him to an oncologist for tx options. She said they could not surgically remove the tumor due to the location (looking at amputation) and the extensive surgery he had for the previous tumor and no radiation due to possible damage to lungs. We decided to go with Vinblastine tx’s (also on dexamethasone, benadryl, pepcid, tramadol). After his 1st tx we started noticing the tumor shrinking and were hopeful we had bought some time with him. He had his 2nd tx Mon. so I was really thinking I’d see good results, well now it is Thurs and not only does it appear bigger but he also seems more uncomfortable. I guess my question is….is there anything we can do that we are not doing to help him or is it too late and he only has days left? I have not noticed any systemic signs of the cancer. His appetite is great, no vomiting or diarrhea. He walks with a limp and has been grunting a lot today and just seems like he can’t get comforable. Any advice or insight would be greatly appreciated.


          • Dr. Dressler on December 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm

            Dear Emily,
            you may be able to have your vet enroll your dog in the compassionate use program for masitinib through Dr. Ahn, who is president of AB Sciences. The company is located in New Jersey. Masitinib is a chemo drug that is used in Europe for mast cell tumors but does not yet have FDA approval in the USA. It would be a good option to consider.
            Dr D

  60. Joanne & Cassie on April 14, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Hi again Doreen:
    Forgot to tell you that I also give Cassie Tumeric (Curcumin) mixed with Letchithin every day on her foot.

  61. Joanne & Cassie on April 14, 2009 at 3:31 am

    Hi Doreen:
    My seven year old border collie was diagnosed with a mast cell tumour on her right hock. She has gone through many weeks of chemo and the tumour has completely disappeared. She is in total remission.
    The diet that I give Cassie is one where there is not wheat products in the food. It is called Holistic Blend. Do not know if you can get it in the States. I also give her flaxseed powder and coconut oil along with K-9 Immunity and K-9 Transer Factor. She also gets four fish oil caps every day. She too is on Prednisone but the dosage has been cut down to a 1/4 pill per day. I am now checking into Bloodroot – it seems kind of toxic and am not sure if it is a good thing. We will have to see what Dr. Dresslers’ comments are on this. I wish you all of the best. The chemo seems to be the best thing. We had Pet Insurance so it cost us about $2,900.00 out of our own pocket and the insurance paid $2,000.00. I would imagine in the states you have better coverage for animals than we do here in Canada.
    Good Luck and I hope that this helped.
    Joanne and Cassie(my baby dog)

  62. Jonathan on April 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    I am curious whether you have heard of treating mast cell tumors w/ a drug called “masitinib” which is a KIT receptor inhibitor?


    • Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm

      Hi Jonathan,
      yes, a drug that blocks a mutated Kit tyrosine kinase receptor found on some mast cell tumors. It is not available yet to my knowledge:

      “The Committee’s conclusions by majority decision at the end of the re-examination procedure were
      that the benefit-risk for Masivet was considered acceptable in a restricted indication for dogs in a sub-
      group that exhibit a positive response to treatment (i.e. treatment of non-resectable dog mast cell
      tumours (Grade 2 or 3) with confirmed mutated Kit tyrosine kinase receptor) and, therefore,
      recommended the granting of a marketing authorisation for Masivet. ”

      Not for all cases of Grade 2 or 3 MCT!

      I will talk more about this pending drug in the webinar…see:


  63. doreen on April 13, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    oops, started this but mailed it by mistake.
    My female english setter, Chloe, is near 12 years old. She was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 15 months ago.. Her spleen was removed and weighed 5.5 pounds. Now they don’t think she was misdiagnosed because she lived so long without treatment.

    Today, April 13th, she has been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor via biopsy.. It is on her right had lower leg, near her foot.. Too tight to excise because they can’t get good margins. The lymph node in same leg,in her thigh, is involved. She was given 50 units of ccnu 2 weeks ago and is still on prednisone, benadryl and pepcid. I followed up with an ultrsound today to see what else might be involved. It has spread to an inch tumor in her spine near her bowel. I have been feeding her EN formula dog food since her hemangiosarcoma diagnosis 15 months ago, afraid to feed her off the shelf dog food. It is supposed to be easy on the stomach but has rice in it.. Now, I read that grain is not good for dogs and might trigger mast cell tumors. Not sure what to believe and what to do at this point. Anybody out there with any advice?

    • Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 10:30 pm

      grains are not pure evil in dogs with cancer. Carbohydrates should be restricted though. Go for a food like Hills ND, Blue Buffalo, Innova Evo, and Wysong makes a new cancer diet I have heard is good. Go for, on a dry matter basis, about equal parts protein and fat and about 2/3 of these carbohydrates..very roughly. There are recipes in the book available above…

      • Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

        Doreen I will also answer more detailed questions this Sunday on the webinar if you are interested:

  64. Anonymous on April 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    My female english setter is near 12 y

  65. alley's mom on April 4, 2009 at 4:51 am

    my 8 year old lab, alley, has been diagnosed with mast cell cancer on the base of her tail. we are going to vet oncologist next week. they talked about possibly removing her tail. i know they do tail removals routinely in certain breeds as puppies, but how big of a surgery is it for an adult dog? thank you -alley’s mom

  66. Joanne & Cassie on March 23, 2009 at 3:47 am

    Thank you Dr. Dressler for answering my questions. Cassies’ tumor on her leg is completely gone and she is in Total remission at the moment. She is getting her chemo by pill now instead of into the tumor. I cannot get any cognitive answer from my oncologist regarding the length of treatments. I should think that they should stop soon and she should just be checked every two weeks or so. I finally found some letchithin and have mixed it with the curcumin and Cassie just loves it. Put it on her food with the coconut oil and she gobbles it right down. Are there any other supplements that you might suggest for her. I still am giving her K-9 immunity and transer factor. The other pills that you recommended are much cheaper but they cannot ship to Canada without going through customs etc. It would take forever to get them. I certainly wish that Canada would buck up and get some of these things for their canine children as they really seem to help. Even our Vets don’t have the time or caring to have a site like yours. God Bless you Dr. Dressler as you are a Godsend. You must be exhausted from answering all of these blogs, carrying on your practice and at the end of the day having time to spend with your family.
    Joanne and Cassie
    P.S. The comment on Bloodroot by patsi is very interesting and will wait and see what your comment is.

  67. patsi ringsdorf on March 18, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Dr Dressler,I have been using neoplasene (bloodroot) since august,2007,for mast cell tumors,have removed 14 plus tumors,most of them small. Have you any knowledge of this treatment? Thank You

  68. Joanne & Cassie on March 16, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler:
    I have left many posts but have no answers from you except getting my vet to change her mind on treatment.
    I have to say that we are so pleased with Cassies’ cancer. Sher is now in remission and her tumor is gone. She is still getting Chemo but only every other week with pills. She is also still on K9 immunity with trans factor. This is very expensive so I am going to switch to the other pills that you mentioned on another blog page. I was of the understanding that tumeric was also good for treating cancer. Is this a proponant of curcumin or is it completely different. I was going to mix it with wheat bran but then I realized glutens are not healthy for dog cancer patients. I am still looking for some letchithin. When the lump is gone, as they say and Cassie is in remission how long do they continue chemo for. It can’t be forever surely. At $200 – $400 per treatment it is getting really expensive but has done the job. Could you please answer my post, I would appreciate it very much.
    Joanne and Cassie

    • Dr. Dressler on March 16, 2009 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Joanne and Cassie,
      What is your vet’s recommendation on the chemo duration? Your vet is the one managing the case and seeing your dog, and I cannot give individual recommendations for people’s pets, sorry. I am able to give general information that apply to many dogs though.
      Curcumin is a component of turmeric, yes. Lecithin is easy to find online, just Google it. Copy this and paste in your browser window: lecithin

      It is a pain to deal with though, messy and sticky, but it does help absorption when given with water.
      I wish you the very best.

  69. Katie on March 9, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Hi Dr. D!

    I want to buy your book, but my husband is not a believer. You see our 4 year old female Boxer, Layla, was diagnosed almost 3 months ago with grade 3 mast cell tumors in her lymph node in her groin. We’ve already spent thousands of dollars…

    We had one infected lymph node removed almost 3 months ago and during that time it spread to the lymph node right next to her colon. The doctor said they could not remove it due to the location. Meanwhile, she also sprouted two tumors on her nose.

    Layla was on an I.V. chemo/prednisone treatments for her first 2 weeks, then her WBC were too low and she had to take time off. During 2 weeks with no treatment, the tumors on her nose started getting bigger again. The oncology vet said that she wanted to try a pill form of chemo she takes every 3 weeks, because she was not seeing the best results from the I.V. form. Layla still seems to be in good spirits though, still eating, still playing, but has gained a significant amount of weight due to the steroids.

    We are soo scared we are going to lose our baby, she is so young and full of love still to give us! We are newlyweds, recently out of college so we do not have a large income and are getting discouraged about whether or not chemo treatment is the best treatment for Layla. The oncology vet, does not seem to ever have time to sit down and talk about functional supplements and of course she is the only one around.

    We have changed her diet to EVO Chicken kibble with 3 pumps of fish oil mixed with water; a daily multi-vitamin; K9 Immuno-modulation therapy by Aloha Medicinals; and Benadryl 3 times a day. I think she has been eating better than I have lately…But I am still not sure that we are doing everything we can.

    Questions to you:
    I want to try a vet who is more in to functional supplements. Do you think this is a good step to stop chemo and try supplements? or both?

    If I could persuade my husband into buying your book, does your book cover specific grade 3 mast cell tumor treatments?

    Dr. D, I wish I had all the money in the world so I could bring her to see you! From watching your video, you seem to have more compassion for animals than most vets.

    Thanks for being you!

    Katie from Tulsa, OK

    • Dr. Dressler on March 9, 2009 at 4:09 pm

      there are some things you can still do, and
      yes, the book does deal with mast cell tumors. You can also try it and if you do not like it you can return it!! I think you will find an massive amount of info in there.

      Thanks for the compliment!!

  70. Joanne on February 21, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Dear Dr. D.,
    Benny received the intralesional triamcinolone shot into his enlarged Mast Cell Tumour on Friday, Feb.8th and now the tumour is back to its original size. We have not called the vet but wondered if you have any ideas as to what we do from this point on? The area is inflamed and I am fearful that it will burst and cause great distress. So far Benny seems comfortable and not bothered by it.
    He is eating the cancer formula Canine Life diet along with lots of freshly steamed vegetables, especially broccoli and many supplements whihc I have previously outlined. He eats well, gets lots of exercise and continues with the daily dose of 10 mg prednisone.
    Thank you for any suggestions you may have.

    Joanne Johnston & Benny

  71. Joanne on February 11, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Thanks Dr. Dressler,
    Our vet did give Benny a shot of intralesional triamcinolone last Friday, February 6th, 2009 and the tumour is reduced a little in size, but not as much as we had hoped. He also got a shot of benadryl.
    Our vet also has Benny on 10 mg. of prednisone daily and 2/3 tablet of Pepcid AC. Every day with him is a “gift.”
    Thanks for responding to my post.

    Joanne & Benny

  72. martina on February 10, 2009 at 10:48 am

    My dog, Nikki, had surgery last week and it was a very bad, bloody, tumor. It was thought to be a sist, it turns out to be Apocrine Adenocarcinoma. What is the likelyhood of survival. My dog is only 4 years old. Husky/mix with lab and shepard?

  73. Joanne on February 4, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I have posted before but didn’t get any response. Our 6 year old schnauzer Benny has Stage 2 Mast Cell Tumour, removed in November, 2007, returned in July, 2008. No more surgery, just CANINE LIFE MUFFINS (cancer formula), lots of good supplements, reishi, Chinese mushrooms, turmeric, modified citrus pectin, salmon oil pills, artemisinin twice daily etc. He is on 15 mg. of prednisone every other day and one tumour is now growing and very hard and red. I fear that it will “burst” and he will suffer. I don’t know what to do. We have called our vet who is not in the office today. I HATE this disease. Do you think shots of intralesional Triamcinolone would be effective at this stage? I am at my wit’s end and worn out after over a year of worrying daily.Benny is only 6 and a half and he doesn’t deserve this. Inoticed the first lump in May of 2006 and NOTHING was done until November 2007 and it was TOO LATE!!

    Joanne & Benny

    • Dr. Dressler on February 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm

      Joanne, yes, most definitely talk to your vet about intralesional triamcinolone!!
      Good luck,

  74. Joanne on January 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    I realize I have already asked you about artemisinin but found some web-sites that sell it and it all so different. Can you recommend a company to buy it from so that I don’t get some placebo or something. Also how much per day would you give to a 60 pound dog. This might help Cassie.
    I phoned her Oncologist today and she really took offence to my asking again about intralesional triamcinolone. Unfortunately Alta Vista Animal Hospital here in Ottawa is the only facility in this City that give Chemo. I am stuck and that is it. Hopefully what she is doing will work. Cassie is only seven and very strong so I am hoping she will pull thru. Thanks Dr. D.

    • Lindsay on February 18, 2009 at 7:18 pm

      I have a 12 year old yellow lab, in fairly good health. In the last week he has had some hip problems. We already have him on a glucosimine chondrotain regiment. When I went to the pet store and this woman told me of a product called the MISSING LINk, a natural canine omega 3 superfood supplement. He has been on it for 2 days, and I have ntoiced he got 3 fatty tumors within a day. Is this a sign that this product might not be for him? How can I get rid of the fatty tumors without surgery, or atleast decrease their size?

  75. Joanne on January 22, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    Thank you for the info. Took Cassie to the vet yesterday for a chemo treatment but her white blood cell counts were too low to give. Oncologist said that this was typical and not to worry. She also said that Cassies’ tumor is almost gone. How could this be. I am so happy. Ordered K9 Immunity and received it yesterday and have started Cassie on it. The other things that showed up on her X rays were negative so this was very good news. I hope and pray that all will be well. I read your post on Artmisinin and am thinking maybe I should get some of this. Can you get it at a Health Food Store. I don’t know where to start to look for it. Is there another name for it perhaps.

  76. Joanne on January 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    Cassie had her first chemo done today,also fine needle aspirate of the dot on her spleen. The protocol that this oncologist is using is as follows: Vinblastine and lomustine with prednisone pill. Is this a good protocol. She pooh pooh the luteolin and did not even want to hear about it. She told me that she is the oncologist and that I must follow what she says. Unfortunately this Animal Hospital (tops in our city of Ottawa) is the only one that does chemo. So, I guess that I am stuck with her protocol. The above would go on for nine weeks. Boy is this chemo expensive. Thank goodness I have pet insurance!!! It only covers $2,000 but that is better than nothing. I have been giving it some thought and I am considering ordering the K9 Immunity, even though our dollar is only worth 79 cents. Do you think that it would really help my dog. As I said before I don’t get good vibes off of the people I have seen so far so I am left in the lurch, sort of speak, and have to trust them whether I like it or not. Your comments or any help you can give would be most helpful. Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank you as I know you are very busy.

    • Dr. Dressler on January 19, 2009 at 1:40 pm

      That is too bad about the oncologist. You might want to read the post about prejudice in viewpoints, which, of course, is just another viewpoint (mine)! As far as chemo goes, yes, it is good. And in all honesty oncologists have more experience than I delivering chemo protocols as that is what they spend most of their time doing. I cannot say whether the K-9 immunity will for sure help your dog, only that some dogs benefit from beta glucans…which is the best anyone can say.

  77. Shirley on January 15, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    Thank you so much for your reply and suggestions. On Tuesday we will be taking our Lucy to see the Oncologist to discuss her case and possible treatment, also on Tuesday Lucy will have an ultrasound done to check for any possible masses internally. On your suggestion we will stop the raw diet and have made a list to take with us to the appointment to discuss adding the supplements you have told us about. We are also currently giving Lucy the K9 Immunity and K9 Trans Factor supplements along with fish oil. Do you think that the Krill oil would be a better oil to use? Thank you again for your help.. Shirley

    • Dr. Dressler on January 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm

      I like krill oil for the reasons stated in the blog post (my personal opinion). You might be interested in the e-book coming, my dog cancer survival guide, should be out within a few weeks, which goes into a lot of detail about the omega 3 fatty acids..

  78. Natalie on January 15, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    My 3 year old golden lab recently (October) had a mast cell tumour removed from his chest. It was classified as grade 2, they believe it was removed with clean margins and liver and spleen biopsies (and ultrasound) indicated that the tumour did not appear to have metastasized (sp?) at this point.
    He has been particularly itchey dog all of his life (chews his feet ALOT), and this doesn’t seem to have changed. In addition his scar from his surgery seems to change colour (some days seem very red), something that we had noticed with his actual tumour, is this something we should be worrying about?
    At this point in time we have been advised that additional treatment does not seem necessary and that we should just check him over regularly for lumps etc.. does this seem reasonable advice?
    Thank you so much for your time and help

    • Dr. Dressler on January 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

      Natalie, sorry to hear about this.
      Sounds like you may have an allergic dog, which has a theoretical link with mast cell tumors. Talk to your vet about treatment for itch, also whether benadryl and cimetidine might be worthwhile. Find out also the mitotic index of the tumor (how many cells were dividing per high power field, a measure of how aggressive it is). If 5 or less, this is more aggressive (a fast moving cancer) and you would, in my opinion, consider more treatment. If over 5, median survival is 70 months, generally less aggressive.

  79. Joanne on January 15, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have now been informed at our vet appointment this morning that the tumor is a Grade II. The surgeon whom my vet called said that it would be impossible to operate on. He also suggested amputation. I also found out that the only place that has radiation therapy near me is in Guelph, Ontario which is about a 10 hour drive. I would have to leave the dog there. As she is so attached to us so this is not an option. I have an appointment with an Oncologist tomorrow to see what she suggests. I feel so alone in this because my vet is not a surgeon, nor is she really versed on mast cell tumors. The surgeon said that he did not feel that the other dots on the x rays were harmful but I want to have a needle aspirate done on the one near the spleen as these could be more mast cell tumors (he said doubtful). You would think that in a place like Canada we would be more cognisant of what is out there to treat this horrible disease and also have a radiation therapy clinic nearby. I have read every post on your site and have sat here for hours on my computer searching for answers. As far as her diet goes I have found some food (hard)called Holistic Blend, has lamb meat,millet,brown rice,amaranth,barley,salmon,flax seed and alfalfa, does this sound OK? slso will start her ob krill capsules and other things and will start her on this. At this point I feel everything is just an exercise is futility. I will not give up no matter what though. It does not look like the prognoses for my dear Cassie is very good does it. I will certainly mention the luteolin. I mentioned it to my vet but she didn’t seem interested. Is there anything else that you can suggest.
    Thank you again so very much,

    • Dr. Dressler on January 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

      I would really try to push your vet to consider intralesional triamcinolone. Do not be afraid to get a second opinion!


  80. Joanne on January 12, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    I have posted twice but I guess I forgot to put in the website that I posted to. At any rate our border collie/shepherd mix, Cassie has a mast cell tumor located on her leg where the hock meets the thigh. Clear margins cannot be achieved and there would be a big hole where the tumor was. She would need a skin flap. The tumor has been graded as a I and I have decided not to put her through the agony of an operation. She has two spots showing up on an ultrasound and Xrays. One is by the spleen and the other is near the lungs. I am going to have a needle aspirate done on the one by the spleen. I guess that chemo and radiation therapy would be the way to go. I live in Ottawa, Canada and it would be so expensive for me to get the food and supplements that you have on your website. Can you suggest a protocol for my Cassie as I am so bewildered at this point I don’t know what to do. The vet wants to amputate her leg. This is riduculous I think. I cannot get a second opinion from other vets because she is already involved with the one I have. They are very pickey here and I already lost one dog to mast cell tumors. She suffered a great deal because the vet did not get the proper margins and did not stitch her up properly. I am so scared that this is going to happen again I am beside myself. If you could give me some suggestions I would very much appreciate. Thank you.

    • Dr. Dressler on January 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm

      Joanne, I feel for you out there. You can get a lot of the supplements on-line from human vitamin sites.
      Find out if indeed we have metastasis, first of all, which you are doing.
      How old is your Cassie?
      A grade 1 is not often dangerous, with some exceptions. The fine needle aspirate will help make that determination. Also buffy coat smears and bone marrow biopsies can help see if you have spread.
      You should discuss with your vet intralesional Triamcinolone (which they have sitting on their shelf most likely already). They inject the mass with this form of corticosteriod and often you can shrink the tumor. I would of course consider cimetidine and benadryl for help with the body effects mast cell tumors can have. Also show your vet the luteolin post to consider.

  81. Ashley on January 11, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Dr. D,

    Rosie’s surgery was good and bad. They were able to get 100% of the cancer on her belly and the MCT on her muzzle did not result in clear margins. We are continuing on benadryl twice a day and prednisone. Our vet suggested CCNU but even after all of my research I am still unsure. Every tumor she has had removed is a grade 2. This is the first that they were unable to get clear margins. Does CCNU help current and prevent new tumors? Is there research on this? Are the risks high? We are also considering K9 immunity but I’m not sure if she is on pred and CCNU if this is too much of an overload?

    Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you for this service that you offer.

    • Dr. Dressler on January 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Ashley,
      the most favored chemo protocol with mast cell tumors, in my opinion, is prednisolone with vinblastine. That is a better combo as far as I am concerned. You should be in touch with an oncologist if possible.
      Also in my opinion, I doubt that K-9 immunity is too much of an overload, but every dog is different and I cannot give individual dog advice. You should discuss luteolin with your vet as well (see that blog post).

  82. Amy on January 11, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler! Thank you so much for having the most comprehensive source of advice on the internet with personalized and thorough responses.

    Like many of the people on here, I am trying to figure out the best way to support my wonderful dog, Fallin– my chocolate lab who recently had a Grade 2 mast cell tumor removed with clean margins (not as wide as they would have liked, but they say they got it all). My vet recommended that I just closely monitor Fallin for tumors to return. However, I hate feeling that it is just a waiting game and there is nothing else that I can do.

    I would like to get her on a healthy diet with the appropriate supplements in order to boost her immune system to be proactive and hopefully keep tumors from not coming back. Do you have any suggestions as to a specific diet and supplements to support me on this plight?

    I currently bought Blue Buffalo food, which is organic and has more natural products than the dry food I was using before. Before that, I tried to make a homemade, carb free diet (“cancer diet”), but her stomach did not take well to it even when I tried to ween her onto it slowly with the dry food. I also started to give her the Budwig’s protocol that I read about online, which is the organic cottage cheese blended with flax seed oil.

    Besides food, I am especially interested in a specific regiment of supplements, vitamins, etc. I have done some searches online, and there is just so much out there that I don’t know where to begin! I don’t want to go crazy and buy everything!!

    Could you help with ideas on diet and supplements? Fallin will be 4 years old in April and is around 80 pounds of love! =)

    Thanks so much,

    • Dr. Dressler on January 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

      Amy, I cannot give specific recommendations to individual dogs. I am sorry to here of this bad news with your pooch. Consider ND food (prescription), but mix in over 2 weeks!! Blue buffalo in my opinion is a good food overall, but less carb restricted than I would like for dogs with cancer. There is little harm in adding some low or non fat cottage cheese with flax oil, although omega 3’s are more accepted.
      I would have you do some reading on some of the posts here:
      omega-3 fatty acids
      That is a start!

  83. Shirley on January 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Dr Dressler,
    Our five and half year old Golden girl has been diagnosed with Grade 2 Mast Cell Sarcoma on her tail, a lump was found and we had it removed with histo being done to see what was the cause,at the time of the lumpectomy she was give an injection of antihistamine prior to the surgery as I requested her surgeon to do, to many years working in a vet clinic has made me concerned about the ‘unknown’ and Mast Cell in particular. My fears were true and Mast Cell Sarcoma, Grade 2 was found. Per recommendation of her vet her tail has been amputed with histo being done and the results came back as clear margins, no cell found. X-rays were done of both chest and abodmen at the time of her surgery to check for ‘mets’ both these x-rays were clear of metsates at this time and as she was spayed at the same time a visiual examine was also done with the liver. Spleen, kidneys and inguinal lymph nodes looking clear and nornmal. She is in otherwise very good health. We have started her on the K9 Immunity/Trans Factor supplements also. She has always been on a Low Carb (currently Taste of the Wild) plus raw diet but I am still wanting to see just what else can be done to keep our girl happy, healthy and with us for a lot more years. Can you give me any suggestions for future treatment/care? I thought I read someplace that there was a blood panel that could be done to show if the Mast Cell was in her blood but can not find any write up on this. I work at a vetenaray clinic and her Doctor is very open to any suggestions and information that I can find. He has said that in the past with his other patients who have had Mast Cell if the margins are good that he has really done nothing and the dogs have done very well and lived good long lives with few if any reoccurances. But I just want to see what others have done? Should we think about Chemotherapy or what treatments, food, supplements, etc with their doggies. And with a prognosis of ‘Gaurded’ it just scares me to think that she could be gone in a short time, it just doesn’t seem possible that one so young could have this problem but then my mind also knows that cancer or any diease does not pick a pet because of it’s age or anything, it just does what it does. Thank you for your time and help with our girl. Shirley

    • Dr. Dressler on January 15, 2009 at 12:17 am

      good work on advising the benadryl injection. Raw diets for cancer dogs is usually a bit of a no-no. Sometimes the immune system is not up to par and the microbes in the packaged meat may be too much.
      The blood test you are talking about is called a buffy coat smear, good idea.
      The conventional perspective is to do chemo, but many vets do not advise it for grade 2, since sometimes it turns out fine. Other times not so, so we have a quandary. There is no right answer. If you decline chemo, advise frequent full body cancer checks (ultrasounds, cbc, chem panel, urinalysis, chest films, buffy coat smea, physical exams, aspirates as appropriate) frequently as decided by you and your vet.
      You might want to discuss EGCG, Curcumin, krill and Luteolin with your vet.

  84. Dr. Dressler on December 11, 2008 at 11:29 am

    ask as many questions as you can. The more familiar you are with concepts the better off everyone is. You will also come to appreciate there are limits to our knowledge.
    I like luteolin, curcumin, krill oil as a good starting point.
    Consider FP food (hills) as one of many options.

  85. Dr. Dressler on November 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Great to hear good news!

  86. Dr. Dressler on November 20, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I am sorry to hear this bad news. It is all too common.
    please check out the latest blog entries on radiation and the previous one on life quality.
    Also do a search on luteolin. Key words luteolin, mast cell stabilization, and cancer, etc. You should look into Lutimax which contains luteolin.
    You should be thinking about intralesional triamcinolone, cimetidine, carb restriction, and all the rest of it. Honestly, it would benefit you and yours to just start reading this blog from the beginning….lots to talk about!!
    Go Big Red!

    • Nardine Theodore on November 21, 2008 at 9:04 am

      Hi again,
      Mystik has been responding extremely well to the pred and has to date only had 2 chemo treatments. She will have 2 weekly checkups at this stage and will continue on daily pred until further notice. I have completely removed processed food from her diet and am feeding her raw. Sourcing raw is somewhat of a mission but here in NZ we do have K9 Natural (raw meat with no grains) and mightymix (raw meat and fats with some grains). Her CBC 10 days ago was great and she had 1 mast cell in the lesion. It was the first time I’d been given numbers so to hear that was just fantastic. Just thought I’d give an update.

  87. Nardine Theodore on November 5, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Dr Dressler,
    My 21 week old Siberian Husky was diagnosed with grade 3 MCT when she was 17 weeks old. She is currently under the care of Dr Bill Rogers at Massey University Vet Training Hospital here in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Mystik is currently on daily pred and weekly chemo. She is responding extremely well and we are hopeful for a positive outcome for her.
    Surgery for Mystik is not an option at this stage due to the location of the tumour. The idea is to shrink it to a size where removal will not cause her disfigurement. The tumour is situated in the part between her nose and top lip.
    I have scoured for information and just today came across your website. What a great wealth of knowledge and I thank you for it.


  88. Dr. Dressler on November 1, 2008 at 11:21 am

    1. There are no studies I am aware of showing that neoplastic mast cells respond to stimulation either by beta glucans or by cimetidine.
    2. The medicinal mushrooms as a group tend to protect against side effects of chemotherapy. More specifically cordyceps protects against marrow suppression from cyclophosphamide and nephrotoxicity from other agents. Do a search for cordyceps and colony stimulating factor in the bone marrow and nephrotoxicity. There are also links in the medicinal mushrooms blog you should read.
    3. Intralesional triamcinolone is for MCT of the skin/subcutis, not spleen, correct.
    4. “Antioxidants” is a huge area and is hugely oversimplified in conventional veterinary thinking. Read the blog post on it, and also the one on ozone for some supplemental info. I will do another one soon to help with people’s general understanding.

    Other than that, try to read the blog posts one by one. I have a book coming soon too that tries to do exactly what you are requesting.


  89. Laurel on October 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    I was wondering if you could direct me to where I might find information studies of cimetidine versus famotidine for mast cell tumors if you know of any. It seems like cimetidine would be preferable, but my dog is on famotidine as per oncologist prescription. I asked why, and was told that theoratically cimitidine may have an undesirable immunostimulant action in the case of mast cell tumors. I understand that mast cells are part of the immune system, but it does not seem like cimetidine would necessarily stimulate the mast cells, since it acts on lymphocytes.

    There is probably no definite answer, but is stimulating the immune system bad for mast cell disease given that the cancerous mast cells are no longer normal immune system cells anyway? Can you shed some light on this dilemma?

    Also, do you know of any studies or other info on the interactions between medicinal mushroom extracts/derivatives and chemotherapy drugs? Or between omega-3\\\’s, antioxidant vitamins and chemotherapy drugs? Or the effects CAM on mast cell tumors? Not being a scientist I don\\\’t know, do compounds that stimulate T cells, as with mushrooms, necessarily stimulate mast cells?

    Is there any conventional treatment I\\\’m missing, that I should ask his vets about? I see where you discuss intralesional triamcinolone, maybe that could be done on the inguinal tumor, but it can\\\’t be used in an organ like the spleen, right?

    My 11 yr old Lab was recently diagnosed with systematic mast cell disease, after having a small grade 2 removed with clean margins a year ago, there was no other treatment done at that time, regrettably. I guess I thought that if it recurred it would be another localized skin tumor, but now he has an under the skin inguinal tumor, numorous dispersed skin tumors, and spleen involvement. No noticable effect on his daily life yet though. He is getting benadryl, famotidine, prednisone, vinblastine, and lomustine. His current vets (WSU) did not suggest surgery or radiation, I guess because of the locations/ extent. Obviously, bleak even with the chemo since its doesn\\\’t work that well without surgery.

    I would like to do complementary supplements, but I don\\\’t know and the vets here do not know for sure what will antagonize the chemo treatments, which I definitely don\\\’t want to do. One has said no problem on the antioxidants, the other says none the day before, day of, or day after the treatments. Neither knows about mushroom compounds except to say that if they stimulate the immune system they could be detrimental. I am having a terrible time trying to find credible studies on the interactions of conventional and complementary medicine, maybe there just aren\\\’t any or maybe I don\\\’t know where to look.

    I know I\\\’m basically asking for a mini-course in veterinarian oncology and CAM, but any insight would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  90. Dr. Dressler on October 20, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Your post requires individualized attention as it is too complex. You can contact me directly. What did your vet say? He or she should be addressing many of these concerns.

  91. Cathy on October 20, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler:

    My 11 year old mixed breed spay female, Mommy’s Baby, had a lump removed from her left vulvar lip 12 days ago. According to the pathology report, it was one lesion, four months duration, slow growth rate, excised. The biopsy of the mass was the entire specimen 1 x 1x1cm. There was no lymph node involvement. It was rated as a canine mast cell tumor grade 3 with a mitotic index of 1. The mitotic figures are frequent and many atypical. There were no neoplastic cells seen at the surgical margin. (It helps having the report in front of me!)
    From what I am reading, I am not encourged by the grade of 3, but can I be encouraged by the fact that it appears when the mass was removed, they were able to take enough to show clean margins?
    I can also tell by the report that the cells in the tumor were showing signs of still harboring the cancer.
    She is the best dog in the world (to me anyway) and I will try anything to keep her with me longer, but given her age and advancing arthritis, I am also concerned about her quality of life.
    She takes Deramaxx, Flaxseed oil, melatonin, Vitamin E, glucosamine and chondroitin plus msm and Proin.

    Would the prednisone be a place to start to slow the metastatic rate?

    Should I ask my vet about blood work? Would that be a way to tell if it may have spread already?

    Since recurrence at the surgery site is common, is there anything in particular I should be looking for?

    She is still her happy, hungry self..even loving going to the vet to get her stitches out today and home again being a great big sister to our 3 month old kitten!

    Thank you for your time!

  92. Dr. Dressler on October 16, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    The recommended treatment for grade 2 mast cell tumors is wide excision. That means wide margins (a lot of tissue removed…hopefully 1-1.5 inches on all sides approximately. Although the malignant potential of grade 2 MCT’s can be malignant, some are not. Try to get a wide excision done, that, in my opinion, is the best use of your dollars. Get the cells out of the dog.
    Oncologists have not researched the information on this blog. It might be illuminating printing the abstracts on the links I provide for his or her review…it can help everyone involved. He/she should almost definitely have heard of cimetidine (as most everyone has…it is Tagamet, a common over the counter med).

  93. Cindy on October 16, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I need some help !

    My 3 year old Weimaraner had what looked like a wart , to me, about the size of a pencil eraser, on his docked tail. I took him to our country vet and he removed it and I had him biopsy it. It came back MCT grade 2. I had never even heard of this and had no idea how serious this was untill I began researching on the net. My local country vet left me hanging high and dry, with no answers to my questions, nor could he even give me a name of anyone locally to treat this or get any information. The said the closest hospital was about 5 hours away.
    I started making phone calls and did find a local clinic that has an internal medicine/oncology vet come in as needed. I met with him and he did a buffy coat and CBC/Chem 12 and everything came back normal. I do not have the money for everything that he suggested, stagging, vinblastine and CCNU.
    He recommended doing just the CCNU. I asked him about the intralesional triamcinolone and he said that was only if the tumor was not removed. I asked him about other things that I have read about, such as, Cimetidine, EGCG, Curcumin and he has never heard of these. I’m not getting much reponse about diet either. He told me to keep him on the Iams that he is on now.
    I had heard from a gal who works in a vets office ( from a message board that I posted on) and she said that they have had good results with prednisone alone. I asked my vet today about this and he said if you use that in itself that the chemo drugs will not be affective down the road if needed.
    I am so confused ! It’s hard for me to even find the CCNU. ( I have to find a pharmacy myself ) I am just so worried I’m not doing what I can for my dog. From what I read, there’s a 40% chance that this won’t spread, but do I take that chance? If I do the CCNU, will it ruin his quality of life, for whatever time he may have ? He has no signs of being ill. Will this drug make him sick or even help him ?
    I guess is what I’m asking is….what is my best path to take? Like I said, I am not wealthy and cannot spend thousands. The CCNU and office visits will be over $2,000. That’s all I can do. Have you had success with CCNU alone or does this prolong his life for a few months? Will it make him terribly ill ?
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  94. Jessica on October 7, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    I see that your expertise is with dogs but I was wondering if you would be able to comment on possible treatments for a cat who recently had surgery for a malignant rectal mast cell tumor (it was just inside the rectum, not far). My cat is an 8 year old male, neutered, domestic mix although possibly half Russian Blue. He’s always been a very active and energetic cat, his diet is both canned (Wellness brand) and dry kibble (Nutro natural). Prior to the discovery of the growth and subsequent surgery, he had no symptoms. The tumor was found incidentally while our regular vet was expressing his anal glands during an routine office visit. He had surgery 4 weeks ago and the pathology came back saying that the growth was a malignant mast cell tumor. (He recovered just fine from the surgery and his back to his old normal self.) We had a consultation with an oncologist vet last week who wants to do an ultrasound, re-tested his blood (all normal, no mast cells floating around) and has suggested radiation therapy or possibly chemo with CCNU (lomustine). My questions are these:

    1. Is ultrasound the best diagnostic imaging for small animals to check for other tumors that might be inside or should they be doing an MRI, CT or X-Ray?

    2. Assuming no other tumors are found, is radiation therapy the best first choice for this type of tumor, since there was no way they could excise it to clean margins, or would chemo be a better choice? (I can’t imagine getting my cat into the carrier and to their clinic 3x a week for 5 weeks plus subjecting him to anesthesia each time.) I’m not sure how effective radiation would be, plus the possibility that the tissue in that area could become scarred, painful and interfere with proper defecation.

    3. Should I adjust his diet to exclude foods with grains?

    4. Should I add any supplements such as curcumin, which I had been reading about earlier before I found your site here?

    5. Do you know someone who is an expert on this in cats that you could point me to? There is so little information or studies done on visceral MCT’s in cats (especially rectal) it’s very difficult to know what the best course of treatment is
    Thank you.

  95. Joanne Johnston on October 6, 2008 at 6:44 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    Our 6 year old Schnauzer Benny was diagnosed with MCT in November 2007. A small lump appeared on his right side in May 2006 and was recognized by the vet and nothing was done. It grew and nothing was done! Then it was biopsied in November 2007 and removed the following day. The pathology report came back as Stake 2 MCT.Almost a year later, in June he was given a “clean bill of health” but the tumors returned ( 2 small ones ) in the same area in August of 2008. No surgery, chemo or radiation was recommended.
    Now we are “flying by the seat of our pants” and reading everything possible ro try and extend the life of this wonderful pup.
    After researching MUCH, we are purchasing CANINE LIFE muffins (cancer recipe) from BARK & FITZ. These were approved by the Veterinary Hospital in Guelph ON, CANADA. Along with this Benny gets 1000mg. salmon pill per day, i modified citrus pectin pill, flaxseed oil with pressed cottage cheese ( 1/4 cup) once a day. To his evening “muffin meal” we add a small amount of his HILLS DIET DRY rd dog food and a little steamed broccoli. He also gets shitake mushrooms twice weekly, chicken with turmeric and a little canned tomato and sometimes a little chicken liver,Essiac tea (1 ounce twice daily) and lots of love. We purchase organic meats and broccoli and wash the vegetable well before steaming.
    He is energetic and appears healthy and happy and loves his food and his walks twice a day.
    However, he is very itchy and although Benadryl helps to ease the itching, it makes him constipated. could you suggest another treatment. Our vet is not at all helpful and has more or less “given up” on Benny. We are not going to do that. Please help us if you can.


  96. Dr. Dressler on October 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Krishna, answer to mast cell tumor within a lymph node (and likely lymphatics): The lymphatics are a circulatory system, like blood. When cancer cells are within lymph nodes, there is a pretty high probability they are in the body, circulating in lymphatics…but as micrometastasis, which are hard to pick up because they are just cells imbedded in places they should not be, or circulating, not doing much…but later they pop up as cancer metatstases.
    I believe, although I cannot be sure, that that is why they suggest radiation instead of surgery at this time.

  97. Dr. Dressler on October 1, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    You are welcome!
    Hm. If a mast cell tumor is in the lymphatics, it is likely in the body…I believe based on what you wrote that your oncologist likely does not want to do surgery because the cells are already in the body, and if one is doing surgery one of the main goals is getting the cancer out of the body (or debulking the growth because it is a problem based on size, getting infected, etc). So perhaps that is why they are choosing radiation instead of surgery at this stage- getting the cells out is not likely since they have spread..although without a bit more info I cannot give you a certain answer.
    Hope that helps!
    Dr D

  98. Dr. Dressler on September 24, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Again, don’t forget the soy lecithin for curcumin absorption enhancement..

  99. Chris on September 24, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you so much for the advice. Your dosing instructions are right on, I believe. Immediately after my last post, I actually sat down and did a second set of calculations, decided that I would give my dog roughly 75mg of EGCG and 100mg of curcumin. I ran this past our Oncologist, and she, while issuing the disclaimer that I was operating outside her realm of expertise, did not see any issues with the 75mg EGCG and 100mg curcumin dosing.

    With your input, however, I’ll now lower it even more to the levels you have advised.

    Again, thank you so much for the advice.

  100. Dr. Dressler on September 21, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Chris, there are no published doses in dogs for any of these. But I will give you my opinion on what you wrote:
    1. The dose of EGCG is way too high for a Boston. I would give about 125 mg of EGCG daily for a large dog. You have 400 mg daily for a dog about 1/4 of this size. I think that is way. I would give 25-50 mg, once daily, on an empty stomach (or with as little food as you can).
    2. I also think the dose of Curcumin is high also. An average supplement dose for a human is about, very roughly and depending on manufacturer, 250-500 mg daily of Curcumin itself. If you assume a 150 lb human, the supplement dose (antioxidant dose, which true is too low but just FYI) for a 25 lb dog is 1/6 that amount, or roughly 45-85 mg daily. You are proposing giving 750 mg of curcuminoids daily. Okay, true, most of this stuff will get passes in the feces, but…even so, seems pretty high to me. Why don’t you give 1/2 of the capsule you ordered daily mixed in soy lecithin, which you can get from the health food store. Use a turkey baster of a syringe from your oncologist to dose your dog. Give on an empty stomach please.
    Get their input and approval before doing this so you can be sure everything is okay before starting (sounds like you are doing so..)!!

    Sounds like you are working on getting the oncologists up to speed on cancer treatment beyond surgery, chemo and radiation!! Nice!

    Glad to hear no grade 3, but keep on those tumor sites regardless, as sometimes (rarely) the grade does not always indicate tumor behavior..

    “Good on you” for taking the time to be your dog’s health advocate!!
    Dr D

    • Nardine Theodore on November 25, 2008 at 11:40 pm

      Hi again,
      Mystik had a checkup at Massey today and prednisone was injected into
      what is left of the lesion. Her tests 3 weeks ago showed 4 mast cells in the
      lesion and zero in her lymph node. 2 weeks ago there was 1 mast cell in
      the lesion and still zero in the lymph node. Today she has absolutely
      no mast cells in the lesion!!
      Mystik will have another checkup in 2 weeks time and tests will be done
      again to ascertain where she is at and treatment will be discussed if
      need be.
      I am relieved and so inspired by her spirit. She truly is a legend and
      what has happened has made me believe in miracles.


  101. Chris on September 19, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Just an addendum:

    For both the curcumin and EGCG, I made sure to find reputable vegetarian formulas (as they contain no sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, egg or preservatives).

    The Curcumin supplement I am going to use contains:

    Total Curcuminoids 665 mg {from 700 mg of Standardized Turmeric Root Extract (Curcuma longaL.} (Min. 95.0% Curcuminoids (containing Curcumin, Demethoxycurcumin and Bisdemethoxycurcumin)}

    The EGCG supplement contains the following:

    KEY INGREDIENT(S): Green tea extract (Camellia sinensis) 400 mg

    Total EGCg content: 50% (200 mg.) (Epigallocatechin gallate, a Catechin) # Total Catechins content: 80% (by HPLC method) (Catechins are a form of Polyphenol) # Total Polyphenols content: 98% (by UV method)

    Less than 1% caffeine content, naturally occurring (versus one cup of green tea’s roughly 40 mg. of caffeine). There should be only around 3 mg. of caffeine, per capsule.

  102. Chris on September 19, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Dr. Dressler,

    My dog is under the supervision of the Onocology team at the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital (Lucky for both my furry child and I, we live in the area).

    The histopath results for my dog’s masses came back quite good. Of 12 masses removed, only 5 were MST. 3 were Grade 1, excised with clean margins. 2 were graded as low Grade 2, excised with clean margins. The onocologist recommended discontinuing any H2 blockers for the time being.

    However, I went ahead and ordered a number of supplements to help my little boy along. He’s been taking 1000mg of purified fish oil daily (which seems to be the indicated dosage, from what I’ve been able to cobble together, for an 11kg canine). The Oncologist indicated that this was a good treatment option, as eha/dha have a number of concurrent health benefits beyond MST “starvation.” In addition, I now have a 99% decaffeinated EGCG supplement (4mg total caffeine content per softgel), and I’m going to start him on 200mg twice a day. I also ordered softgels of 750mg curcumin extract. My read is that 375mg 2x daily is about the right dosage for his size and weight.

    Even our Oncologists was not aware of the recent literature on EGCG and Curcumin. I sent them links to a few selected articles (PubMed).

    I’m feeling good about both my Boston’s prognosis, and the combination of supplements I have arrayed for him. I am curious, however, if I have the dosage right. I know I’m not at a level where toxicity would be an issue, but I would like to know if there is any other literature out there re: the proper dosing.

    • Marti Sheldon on December 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm

      My vet doesn’t want to upset my dog’s system right now by changing his diet prior to radiation, but she was willing to consider the luteolin after I gave her some links from some research I did online. However, I could not find anything about dosing info, and this was new info for her. He ways approximately 65 pounds. Any advice?

      He takes benadryl twice a day andhas been getting dermcaps forever due to skin dryness and allergies, so I don’t think that he would need a new fish oil supplement. When he was undergoing chemo, she put him on famotadine instead of cimetidine. What is it that the latter offers, that the former does not, and is there any research to document this? She had us take him off of the famotadine once we stopped with the chemo. Should we request that he start back up with the cimetidine? She didn’t tell us the protocol yet, so that may be part of it.

      I’m concerned, mostly because of his age, that she wants him to undergo radiation 5 days a week every week for a month. Doesn’t that seem like an awful lot? It will be in a small area just around his lip where the tumor appeared / reappeared, but still.

  103. Dr. Dressler on September 13, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I would most definitely ask your oncologist to consider cimetidine. Your findings parallel my own, which are that the other H2 blockers lack the anti-cancer effects of cimetidine. By the way, are you working with a veterinary oncologist or a veterinarian?
    Cimetidine, like other drugs, needs to be considered in conjunction with whatever other treatments are provided to your dog and his or her individual needs.
    Dr Dressler

    • Marti Sheldon on December 2, 2008 at 2:58 pm

      I can’t believe my stupid typo – ways not weighs. Don’t tell anyone at Cornell.

  104. Chris on September 10, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Hello, Dr. Dressler:

    My 6 year old Boston Terrier just had a number of small masses removed, several identified by needle aspirate as MST. Our onocologist recommended fametidine (5mg for an 11kg dog).

    What are your thoughts on Cimetidine versus Fametidine?

    My brief lit review of available journals seemed to indicate that the inhibiting factors found in Cimetidine are not present in other H2 blockers. Would you advise asking my onocolgist about switching my dog over to Cimetidine? Or are there other factors that might preferentially indicate fametidine?

    Thanks so much,


  105. Dr. Dressler on September 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Matt, try to call first. That way they can block off the 15-30 min needed for the biopsy and you can do it in a single trip (recheck first, next biopsy) Don’t forget to fast your dog that morning (you don’t want any surgery done on an empty stomach if possible).
    Dr D

  106. Matt C on September 1, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks so much, Dr. Dressler!

    I will be heading back to the vet this week to have him looked at again, likely get the biopsy done, and discuss your suggestions. I am also not very far from UC Davis and my pet sitter recommended I tap into that resource as well.

    As I get more information, I will return to post the information in hopes of helping others out there.

    thanks again…Matt

  107. Dr. Dressler on September 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Matt
    Okay, here’s the scoop:
    1. All mast cell tumors have the potential to be malignant, although grade 2 and 3 (especially 3) are bad stuff. Grade 1 and only some Grade 2’s have a tendency to be benign, especially grade 1. You can’t diagnose grade on an aspirate. So if you have a little cash, get a biopsy done. Small piece gets send to the lab, no disfiguring, can be done under deep sedation with a little local block of lidocaine, bada bing, there’s the info you need on grade to make a smart decision. Have the DVM give a benadryl inj. first.
    2. Your dog is acting fine- great! Problem: once the little one is not acting fine due to mast cell metastasis, you just sealed his fate to a yucky death which can be postponed with some of the stuff I talk about but…so behavior is a JUNK indicator of the severity of the malignant potential of a mass. Sorry, but that is the truth.
    3. Please research and discuss with your vet the following for your dog:
    Intralesional acemannan injections
    Intralesional triamcinolone injections
    These are shots right into the tumor which can help it shrink. No disfiguring, can be done under sedation or if the dog is compliant and sturdy, sometimes without even that. There is a ton of other stuff to consider as well (see this thread for some generic suggestions)
    Let me know if you need other help.
    Dr D

    • Marcia on December 6, 2008 at 5:08 pm

      Dr. Dressler,
      Please give me some advice. My dachshund was just diagnosed with a mast cell tumor by his anus. I went to a surgeon on the vet\’s advice and she said she wouldn\’t be able to get much of a margin because of its location. And he would possibly be fecally incontinent.

      I asked the vet about using prednisone to shrink it some. (it\’s about 1 cm). She said prednisone doesn\’t work well with mast cell tumors. She said surgery is the best option.

      Is there any alternative to help him? He\’s healthy otherwise, but this week I see that pooping seems to be harder for him.

      What else can be done for this boy? I just lost my other dog recently–she was older and had kidney failure. I\’m not ready to see him go too.

      Thank you,

  108. Matt C on August 31, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Hello, Dr. Dressler

    I just learned a couple of days ago that the bump on the muzzle of my 8 year old male dachshund is a mast cell tumor. This was determined after an aspiration taken by our vet. The bump, which as been there for up to a year or so, has recently gotten a little larger and does seem to swell/shrink a bit. This bump is on the upper right side of his muzzle and is now about the size of a dime, but initially was the size of a bug/mosquito bite (about a year ago.) It has not changed size over the past 3 months, give or take. Having read other accounts, this sounds like a slow rate of spread to me.

    He is a very healthy dog who joins me regularly for 4+ mile hikes and/or runs in steep terrain and I have observed no other drastic signs or symptoms in his behavior. I have noticed that he has had occasional scratching episodes when no fleas or other skin irritants are present, but these are short lived and not severe ( ie no self mutilation). I understand now this could be related to the release of histamines associated with the tumor. This symptom has been present for about a year or more, but doesn’t occur often. I plan to treat this with 1mg of Benadryl/per 1 lb of body weight if it reappears.

    So the vet is telling me that the recommended procedure for this is to remove the tumor, but that it will be very difficult to get good margins. Moreover, she says that my dog may be quite disfigured after the surgery (not just scarred but disfigured!) She also stressed that there are no guarantees that this tumor has not metastasized, which would render the procedure pointless. Moreover, it is not known at this point if the tumor is indeed malignant.

    I read on another site that mast cell tumors that have been around several months without significant growth are often benign. What’s your take on that? Part of my dilemma is that I would hate to put my dog through the stress associated with this procedure, and remove part of his nose when it may be unnecessary, or may not even stop the spread of the cancer. And if the tumor is malignant, what kind of quality of life is he going to have after such a procedure? It seems to me that he’s perfectly OK – strong appetite, appropriate weight, good temperament and great stamina, etc, and that has been unchanged over the past year.

    I recognize the real challenge here is the location of the tumor and whether or not the entire tumor and margins can be removed. Are there any alternative methods of treatment you might recommend that are less invasive?

    Are there any key follow up questions I should ask my vet about his prognosis? Is there more information or data that can be analyzed from lab tests that show the grade or severity of the tumor? What kind of nerve damage or other impact on his olfactory senses could be caused by the procedure?

    Based on what information I have, and the signs/symptoms present, I am leaning towards riding this out without surgical removal of the tumor. It just seems like a big gamble for something that might not require such drastic measures or prove ineffective. If I thought that this procedure would cure him, but still leave him disfigured, then I would do it. But that question cannot be answered.

    Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

  109. julia c on August 30, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for all that wonderful information. I will print and discuss with my vet. I truly appreciate it. Once again you are doing a wonderful service for all of us out here. I look forward to more of your blogs.

  110. Dr. Dressler on August 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Hi Julia,
    I am sorry to hear this bad news. Grade 3 MCT are not good. BUT there are some things to consider:
    First, consider MDR-1 mutation testing. See the next blog. Rarely a problem in Labs but if you want to be extra extra extra safe get it done.
    Second, DEFINITELY discuss cimetidine and triamcinolone acetonide infusions. Print out the blog for dosing. The triamcinolone also can decrease the oral pred requirements.
    Third: other things! There is tons of unsound advice out there that has not been really checked out for safety and/or benefit. Here are some things that have:
    Ask your vet about ND commercial food, shown to extend life by itself in lympho dogs (without other treatment) by median 6 months, which is solid.
    IF No ND, then please research and consider implementation of the following AFTER consulting with your vet or oncologist for precautions (presented for information only but not recommendations for your dog):
    a.go low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. Cancers love carbs. Change foods very slowly by mixing with regular food over 2 weeks to stave off diarrhea.
    b.Add fish oil or krill oil (I like krill) up to about 18 caps per day. Introduce slowly and work your way up, also over 2 weeks. Some oncologists don’t like the antioxidants in some of these in the astaxanthin found therein during chemotherapy…a theoretical concern but discuss with your vet.
    c. A vitamin supplement, normal doses. DO NOT load up on antioxidants but maintenance antioxidant have been shown to lessen toxicity of chemo without decreasing efficacy.

    Regardless of diet, also learn about:
    Beta Glucans (see K-9 Immunity), non specific immune stimulator, seems to help with survival times in my experience.
    Melatonin, AT NIGHT. Total darkness at night. Anticancer effect documented very well, almost totally ignored in vet med.
    EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) daily (check out Teavigo). Anticancer effect documented, also almost totally unknown in vet med except one rediculous toxicity paper using 200X standard human doses where they killed a bunch of beagles. Disgusting.
    Luteolin, multiple documented anticancer effects.
    JUVEN, mixed in cottage cheese especially if your dog starts losing weight.
    Modified citrus pectin. Antimetastasis effect by receptor blocking documented, also unknown in vet med(okay, you get the idea..)
    Curcumin mixed in lecithin for absorption through intestinal wall, start slow, work your way up to full dose over 2 weeks. Can make stool yellow.

    Start fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon peeled and chopped, daily in food for nausea and mild immune stim, also mild pro-apoptosis effect in cancer cells.

    Direct sunlight, for black dogs about 1-2 hours twice weekly to boost active Vit D3 (don’t bother with oral, can’t get high enough levels), don’t overheat your dog.

    Excercise, train, build your dog’s self esteem, stimulate and interact with your dog a lot.

    There are gobs of other things but that should get your teeth in something.

    Dr D

    • Marti Sheldon on November 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

      My 10 year old lab-mix (has features of a lab mix and vet thinks so, but DNA test says rotterman) was diagnosed with grade 3 MCT in his mouth 7 months ago, no signs of it anywhere else, but could not get enough of tumor to get clean margins with surgery. 6 months of chemo led to clean bill of health. 2 months later, same spot in the mouth the tumor is back, much smaller, but still grade 3. Sounds like radiation is being recommended followed by more chemo. Does this make sense for a large dog who is this old? Will he spend the rest of the time he has left going every week for some treatment or another? If we don’t go there, is there anything else we can do to prolong his life? Our oncologist did not offer any dietary / supplement suggestions. (BTW, prednisone leads to bad incontinence.)

      P.S. I am a CU Engineering grad and my husband a CU Engineering MS. I miss the rolling hills far above…

    • Dr. Dressler on December 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

      prednisolone is used in mast cell tumor chemo protocols, combined with vinblastine. This is a standard current protocol.
      I cannot give recommendations on individual dogs, but:
      See above:
      intralesional triamcinolone could maybe be an option.
      Talk to your vet, maybe a second opinion…
      Dr D

  111. julia c on August 29, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    I finally found you! I have been scouring the Internet as well, for information on Grade III Mast Cell Tumors, undifferentiated for my 9 year old black lab. I have read some journal articles and other sites, but I was looking for someone like you who was posting their clinical experience because I do not feel like I get the whole picture from my vet. I also read Lori’s response and commend her on her treatment decisions. Lena’s tumor was found on her left flank, about the size of a silver dollar. The vet did not prophylactically treat her with Benadryl either. The margins came back clear except for one tiny area that was superficial on one lateral border. We had it re-excised to get clear margins, but FedEx lost the sample. I was devastated!!!!!! Her subsequent diagnostic exams have not shown spread to thorax, abdomen, or buffy coat blood smear. But the vet recommended Vinblastine 1.76 mg (she weighs 58 pounds) once a week for four weeks, then every other week for four more treatments, and 40mg of Prednisone for one week and then taper with chemo. She had her first treatment 8/27/08. Now her butt smells like a chemical dump. I am extremely worried about whether I am doing the right thing. She looks like the picture of health as well, great energy, great coat, great appetite. Would you recommend asking my vet about CCNU, cimetidine, and the triamcinolone injections as well? I know the prognosis is horrible, but I did find some research reporting that dogs have survived for quite some time with that Vinblastine/Prednisone treatment protocol. And that they tolerate Vinblastine all right. My husband and I do not have kids, we are both 40, and she really is like one to us. I just started medical school this week and am having a very hard time concentrating on that while I try to figure out the best thing for Lena. Any advice that you could possibly share with me would be much appreciated. And I plan to visit your blog often. Thank you so much for putting this information out there for us. It will make a difference in our pet’s life and many others I believe.

    Sincerely, Julia

  112. Lori Michaelson on August 23, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I think, but am not certain, that our veterinarian described Brandy’s skin growth on her underbelly in very much the same way you did. Even though I know he is an experienced veterinarian… I felt I had to ask him if he had seen anything similar after his close examination prior to surgery. And I was very pleased with his answers although his first educated guess was that it was probably nothing.

    I know there are many many wonderful veterinarians out there and I DO include ours as one of them. 🙂

    My long post was really to help so many of us know if our “Vet is on the ball.” I now do not know if HAD HE given Brandy a Benadryl injection (just to be safe) prior to surgery — could it have saved her many many more months or years? Something we will never know.

    In other words, I guess sometimes it does come down to responsible pet owners to find out as much as they can about ANY conditions. As well as to keep the closest eyes you have on your beloved pet.

    Brandy was our first Golden and I remember doing all kinds of Internet research for information on them. Right away I found out that they were more prone to hip dysplasia. But she was not yet two years old yet and I was hoping she would not acquire it. Not so lucky. One morning she tried to get up and walk and she “froze” — scaring us greatly. And THEN finding the diagnosis that she did have it. Very early on.

    Cancer was the very last thing we would have been thinking of even during her later years. Yet we had to find out the hard way. *sigh*. I had NEVER come across this type of cancer in all that I have read. But I know now!

    A big thanks to you and Rochelle!

    And now… OUR household dilemma described in the Omega-3 vs Krill oil thread!

    Lori Michaelson

  113. Dr. Dressler on August 22, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Lori, thanks for the compliment! About your vet: we are all doing the best we can, and we are all human beings with our limitations, including me, you, and your vet. It is really for anyone easy to look back in retrospect and note what could have been done better…BUT..mast cell tumors are known as “The Great Imitators”. They have a variety of looks, sometimes amazingly so. So don’t let the fact that this mass was not diagnosed as a mast cell tumor ruin your confidence in your vet.
    Having said that, there are very few vets who are spending the time and energy doing what I am doing. It is not that I am so great or went to Cornell or anything like that…rather I have devoted myself to the area of “outside the box” treatments that withstand a scientific critique, in the hope that we will be able to do better in the future with cancer than we have in the past (rather dismally in conventional medicine). I know it can be done, and I promise I will succeed in this given enough time. It is just a matter of looking and avoiding “condemnation prior to investigation.”
    So, there will be inexpensive suggestions and more in this blog, and in upcoming projects. Although I am no longer in your area, you will have access to what I have to offer!
    In summary, do not forget all the healing your vet has provided your pets with. I hope the the information in dogcancervet.com and dogcancerblog.com will continue to help both you and your vet help with your dog’s cancer.

  114. Lori Michaelson on August 22, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Dr. Dressler,

    Of course there are many things to consider after such grave diagnosis’. Yet MORE to digest and being aware of. Often times the more options put forth … the more questions become needed. As I described in my post of what supplement is best for dogs with diagnosed mast cell cancers.

    Our veterinarian did not suspect mast cell cancer at all so he did not give our dog a Benadryl injection prior to removing the skin growth that we found on our 9 1/2 – 10 -year-old Golden Retriever earlier this month. And, unfortunately, I did not know about you or your blog then or read about doing this. In your other post on mast cell tumors and pre-surgery Benadryl injection you said “Make sure that your Vet is on the ball…”

    We have been very happy with the veterinarian that we have been going to for over four years now. He and his colleague have been veterinarians for 25-30 years and he has the bedside manners of an angel and anything we have needed him for … his answers and his logic and his medical explanations have never been disappointing.

    But how can someone really know if the Veterinarian they have chosen (or have been pleased with many years) is on the ball with EVERYTHING? This is really a rhetorical question for obvious reasons.

    We have had our Golden a little over 6 1/2 years and we had been to 3 other Veterinarians prior to finding our current veterinarian. He was able to help her with a big problem several years ago when everyone else (including ourselves and service dog personnel and the three other veterinarians) were at a loss. But that is another topic/medical problem.

    When we went to get our Golden’s stitches removed last week from her recent surgery (removing what was LATER found out to be mast cell tumor – grade 3) I asked him if he had ever heard of giving an injection of Benadryl prior to a surgery on a potential mast cell cancer tumor. It was a chaotic day and neither my husband or I remember his response! He responded right away without hesitation but I can’t remember a thing he said. I have a “feeling” that he MAY have been ‘baffling us with bullsh*t’ but I can’t say for sure now. And, of course, NOW it doesn’t matter as it was not done.

    Unfortunately, I think many of us find ourselves in a predicament whereby a certain condition comes up with our beloved pets and THAT is when one finds out if their veterinarian “is totally on the ball.” Unfortunately so. Perhaps that could be another topic — the list of a thousand questions you should ask your veterinarian before choosing him or her as your veterinarian!

    The list of potential problems/conditions is ongoing and that poses a problem when it does comes to choosing a veterinarian as well as where someone lives. That is one reason why I like the program MYSTERY DIAGNOSES (for humans) because people find themselves going from doctor to doctor to doctor for years on end before finding the problem. And sometimes the problems the conditions are SO RARE that it may take one doctor in 10,000 that is familiar with THAT certain condition. Been there, done that with myself and “syringomyelia”. Took 4 years for my diagnoses. And a great percentage of those people, including myself, had to diagnose themselves!

    The myriad of symptoms also propose a problem and OFTEN throws doctors off. One recent medical condition that I saw on that program was so rare that the blood test to confirm it was only done in another country (I think it was Switzerland)!

    So, our veterinarian is very good but NOW, we see, is not perfect. When he called us with the grave diagnosis he also told us that further surgeries or treatments would not help at this point. We most assuredly agree and would not allow further surgeries had he suggested any. And then, many folks like ourselves, do not have thousands of dollars to spend on treatments that may only give her five more months (as an example). Quality of life over quantity of life again. A dog can become a research animal with the best of intentions but certain choices may put the dog through too much and then the dog passes away only months later anyway.

    Dr. Dressler … You were very fortunate to be able to go to Cornell. And I am from, and used to live, only about 45 minutes away from there. 🙂 It is one of the best colleges especially for veterinary medicine. And it most definitely sounds like you have more than a vested interest in everything you can find out beyond schooling. But, for the rest of us, how to find more “Dr. Dressler’s” is surely not an easy task!

    Thank you,
    Lori Michaelson

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