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

Carcinoma of the Anal Sac, part 2

Updated: November 18th, 2019

In the last post, anal sac carcinoma was discussed, including diagnosing these malignant tumors in the dog.  In this post, we will cover more on treatments and some data concerning outcomes.

If a guardian is coping with a diagnosis of canine anal sac carcinoma, often major questions arise soon after the news is received.  Chemotherapy?  Radiation?  Diet? Supplements?

As a proponent of guardianship in dogs, my advice is always to get whatever data you can to use as rough guidelines for your particular dog.   In this spirit, below is some information concerning survival statistics for dogs with anal gland carcinoma.  Please remember that these numbers don’t apply to your dog necessarily, as they are calculated based on groups of different dogs.

One study showed the median survival time for dogs with treated tumors was 544 days overall.  The upper limit of the range was up 1, 843 days!  Those tumors that measured greater than or equal to 10 square cm was 292 days while those with smaller tumors had a median survival of  584 days.  (A rough way for your vet to measure the square cm is to measure the radius of the tumor, square it, multiply this by 4, and multiply this by 3.14)

As to which treatment, it looks like the Big 3 conventional steps combined give the best survival chances. These are surgery, chemo and radiation.  If you have to pick, go for the surgery as your minimum.

As usual, the additions of apoptogens, diet, immune support, anti-metastatic treatments, and life quality enhancement are a part of the Full Spectrum Plan provided in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.


Dr D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. sue ansted on August 31, 2018 at 11:41 am

    MY 6 year old LH dashchund was dianosed with Anal gland carcinoma 1 month ago.
    Had the surgery, week after vet felt tumor. The surgeon was a specialist, felt he got it all. The biopsy was long and detailed, but the surgeon said the miotic rate was high
    Ultra sound, blood tests,xrays all good, he is doing great…has to go back to vet next week for check up then every 3 months, that is my option or chemo….,so far I have decided against the chemo, I don’t want to be in denial, but he is a fighter and very spunky, most news of this thing is not good on here, but the 5 year one was super.
    What do you think I should do to get the best out come

  2. Susan Kazara Harper on June 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Congratulations Kimberly on three great years. It’s hard to make any decisions when the stakes are so high, but it sounds as if you made the right one for your family. Please give your girl a lovely cuddle and a ‘well done’ pat. All the best!

  3. Kimberly Slinger on May 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    My lab was diagnosed with anal sac cancer in 2012 and now, 2015, she is 15. We decided against surgery due to the invasiveness of the surgery and her age. Also, I am told it likely will return without chemo, a very costly treatment, though effective and less toxic for canines. Our girl is still enjoying walks, occasional swims, food and we made the right choice not treating the cancer.

  4. CarolBMindi on October 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    i just found a large red mass on top of my dog’s anus. She is 16 year female. 2 months ago she had an office visit exam and apparently the vet missed it. new vet is doing biiopsy, suspects cancer. If it had been detected 2 months ago would it have made a difference in prognosis?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on October 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Hi Carol,
      Yes, No, no way to tell. When we get a cancer diagnosis, we humans just have to finds ‘whys’ and ‘why nots’ and places to put blame. While early detection is always better, two months is a drop in the bucket and very likely wouldn’t have made a big difference. Be thankful that you found it and that you now have a vet on the case. Please don’t waste time in fear about what you don’t know yet… stay positive, get busy getting her nutrition as top-notch as possible (the Dog Cancer Diet, available in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide book and at http://www.dogcancerdiet.com). When you get the results of the biopsy, write down all the info… yes, no, if yes, stage of the tumor etc. It’s time to take deep breaths and just let your girl know you are with her every step of the way. If the result is positive for cancer, there is SO MUCH you can do! We’re here to help with loads of information. Good luck!

  5. Jen on July 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I wanted to share our experience with others dealing with the same diagnosis because we only controlled the cancer post-surgery with Palladia. 11 yr old male springer/retriever mix. Super healthy boy outside of this. Surgery to remove the mass and two affected lymph nodes. A lot of $ and time/pain through radiation and then 3 doses of chemo. He went into ICU after 2nd dose of chemo…we almost lost him after reaction to chemo. After reduced 3rd dose, ultrasound found it had come back in his lymph nodes. We were devastated after only 4 months post surgery and radiation. We switched oncologists after our first one only recommended doing another full abdominal surgery followed by another chemo. DO NOT let them do this. We declined and got a 2nd opinion. Why would you put your dog through that surgery all over again when it will just pop up elsewhere and you haven’t found a proven treatment to control it thereafter? Ask questions…and get 2nd opinions. I am so glad we did. Our new oncologist recommended Palladia because it is different than chemo (which didn’t work). So far, it has reduced the size of his infected lymph node, no new growths, and it has given us 7 additional healthy months. He has had some leg cramping and loose bowels. We put him on probiotics and tested some different foods to get him back on track. Things are great. I HIGHLY recommend Palladia before you do radiation or chemo. I wish someone had told us this before all the heart ache, pain for our boy, stress and cost.

  6. Therese on March 4, 2014 at 3:23 am

    My dog just celebrated her 13th birthday in February, more than 5 1/2 years after being diagnosed with anal gland adenocarcinoma (that’s more than 2,000 days!). She’s been through surgery, a few different chemo drugs, radiation, homeopathy, and Chinese herbal medicine. Add to that, home cooked food and plenty of love. She’s a little fighter, and one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever known.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on March 4, 2014 at 4:22 am

      Congratulations! You are both fighters and I know your love and support gave her all the tools she needed to rally and thrive! Thanks for giving us some good news to celebrate. Give her a hug from all of us on the team. She’s a Star!

    • Evelyn on May 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Hi Therese,

      Any chance you can share resource for the Chinese herbal medicine? Our dog, just shy of 14 years was just diagnosed with a tumor. Surgery is out of the question due to his age.

      Thank you!!

    • Janie on May 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Theresa I was so happy to read about your dog surviving over 5 years! My Summer girl was diagnosed a year ago and still in remission. I did not do radiation though. Just wondering if you would mind giving me a little more info about what you have done over the years.

      Summers Mommy

  7. mukund on October 29, 2013 at 7:45 am

    You have a great website – this is an invaluable resource. Thanks!

    Our 12y old German shepherd mix was diagnosed with anal sac cancer earlier this month. A pea-sized lump was discovered during rectal exam associated with cleaning impacted anal glands (he had no other symptoms). It was a short way up the rectum and during surgery, the vet thought it was a GI tract mass and unlikely to be associated with the anal sac (he did not feel anything around them). As a result, he did not remove the (left) anal sac. The biopsy report showed good but small margins (~1 mm), but blood tests (Calcium, CBC) were very good as were follow-up abdominal ultrasound and chest X-rays. Also, he had a small mammary (malignant) tumor removed about 2.5 years ago, with no recurrence (treated since with herbs and supplements)… our vet did not see a connection

    We are now considering the next steps – back into surgery to remove the left (or both) anal sacs followed by chemo or just chemo by itself. We decided against a third recommended path, which was radiation treatment for 21 days (on account of daily sedation/anesthesia..he had a tough time (~12 hrs) recovering from sedation from the prior procedures). Our vet has not pushed hard for any specific path. Should the small isolated location and clean diagnostics give us confidence to take the least aggressive path?

  8. Bald_Eagle on October 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Though his tumor in Cubby (Cocker mix) was discovered in Feb 2012, the vet thought it was an “impacted” anal gland. Due to hos long har and the location, it wasn’t noticed until Aug of 2013, when it was HUGE. The oncologist said no matter what was done, they couldn’t get all the cancer cells and he would live 12 months, maxm even with “heroic” measures. We elected to let him live as he was. Other than incessant thirs (due to high calcium levels) and pooping “ribbons” (flat stools due to tumors inpinging against poop chute), he seemed normal. That is, until today. He seemed to strain more the last day or so, and this afternoon it was explosive diarhea across the house. He can’t help it, but I think he is at the end of the road. It is tough when you have had over 20 dogs, but one was as special and close as any other living being in your life (that’s ok, I am divorced, so nobody to get upset).

  9. Melinda on September 1, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Hi, Dr. Dressler and Dr. Sue,

    Just reporting that Paco who had been given 6 mos prognosis w/inoperable anal gland adenocarcinoma with spread to lymph nodes, is still with us and doing well. I started radiation at a facility that I can afford (barely). Just doing 6 treatments. My questions are, how dangerous is this? I just read up on all Dr. D’s posts about radiation. 6 seems at least a little safer than a full regimen but still now I’m nervous. Our challenge with Paco is everything from arteminisin to avemar to fish oil to AHCC and mushroom blends gave him diarrhea. And one metronomic chemo pill/piroxicam also made him very ill. Everything I tried systemically was depleting him. Pro-biotics didn’t seem to make a dent. And I didn’t want to keep him on flagyl. I was told we couldn’t do surgery way back when he was diagnosed (too tricky location of lymph nodes. they’d have to open his pelvis??)

    He’s still pooping okay (tho’ still loose even though he’s on nothing but raw diet and some cooked food ala dog cancer diet protocol, no grains. orijen 6 fish kibble at night cuz he likes it.)

    Also, I give him k9 immunity plus every day. colostrom plus every day. carcinosin every day. and healthy nuggets by Dr. Goldstein (earth animal).

    I was told no anti-oxidants during radiation. Onc said, just no mega doses of C and E. Is there anything else I shouldn’t be giving him? I’m just trying to keep him happy as long as I can. It’s about quality of life for me not quantity which is why I took him off things that made him feel sick. I’m hoping side effects of this radiation won’t be bad. And I’m still wondering even though I asked Dr. Sue when I saw her, if I shrink this would it then be a candidate for cyber knife?
    Anyway, thanks for reading/listening…
    Melinda & Paco

  10. Melinda Buckley on March 24, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Hello, Dr. D and Dr. Sue,
    I could have sworn I had posted this comment last week but it doesn’t seem to be here so I’m re-posting. First of all, thanks for all the info. I’ve been reading and re-reading the Guide, got the Apocaps, K-9 Immunity Plus and transitioning as best I can to the cancer diet. I had appt with Dr. Sue last week but unfortunately, with my Mom in Hospice I couldn’t make it. I’m rescheduled but it’s over a week away.
    Here are my questions:
    I gave Paco (who has inoperable Anal Gland Adenocarcinoma with spread to intrapelvic lymph nodes) a single does of Cytoxan/Piroxicam. the next day he had diarrhea and threw up. And he looked so sick. I immediately stopped and we went thru some flagyl and bland diet to get his tummy settled. it spooked me about metronomic chemo though and I was pretty disappointed that the prescribing onc took four days to respond to my call when it happened. I keep hearing from my holistic friends that I should steer clear of chemo and radiation. That his life quality will be poor even if the treatments extend his days. Right now, I’m cooking for him, loving him to pieces getting him outside more than ever and he’s full of beans. No one would know he’s as sick as I’m told he is. But I understand the ‘compensation’ factor from reading the guide and the link Dr. D recommended. My heart is breaking though and I’m in a panic. Holistic advice I’ve gotten: Ozone treatment, chinese herbs and diet with supplements. I’m praying A LOT. I think palliative radiation might be okay but it is so expensive and I’m told it will extend his life only a couple of months. I just don’t know how I’ll manage the cost, the side effects (?), etc as I’m the long distance care giver for my Mom, which means I’m driving over 4 hrs each way and of course, I have to work but between care taking them both I don’t know how I can– and my own health is starting to deteriorate. I know no one can make this decision but I’d really like your opinion… If radiation will shrink the tumor on his gland and lymph nodes, could it then be operable? (I’m told where his affected lymph nodes are makes it to risky regardless). So even if they just got the tumor out, I’d still be looking at chemo to manage the lymph spread. And then I’m back to square one. I’ve read about graviola, neoplasene… both seem troublesome and unproven. I think I fall into the ‘B to C’ type (from the guide) of owners who want to do everything they can, but I want my boy to enjoy his life and not have it be an endless round of treatments and management. I say this, but then I have my desperate moments when it’s all too much to bear. ugh… Any thoughts appreciated. And thanks again, for all the research and for being a beacon of sanity and reason in this sea of chaos.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Melinda
      I’d be looking at low dose Palladia here or oral neoplasene if I were you. Use mirtazapine with oral neoplasene or your dog will get sick again. All these meds have to come from the vet so get your vet involved as always as I cannot make accurate calls online..but these are more options to consider, having researched all this stuff ad nauseum over the yeras…under veterinary supervision please…
      Dr D

  11. Luke Moseley on March 19, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Dr D, my mini schnauzer Chloe was originally thought to have hemangiosarcoma but a biopsy revealed it to be ASAC. It appears to have spread to lungs and possibly liver. Surgery is out and so is radiation. I can’t see where this would help. Would you (or Dr E) suggest carboplatin,mitoxantrone, or something else? I’m hoping we can treat this as Metronomic Chemo orally if thats possible. Chloe is on the dog cancer diet, Apocaps and K-9 Immunity/wtransfer factor. She is also taking Mirtazapine to help with her appetite because she only wants to eat meat (or treats). Her weight appears stable at about 17lbs.
    I’m not sure if you have received my previous messages as they do not appear on the blog. If you get this message please let me know. Thanks, Luke.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Dear Luke
      under these circumstances I might be considering Palladia, in addition to dog cancer diet, Apocaps, and immune support as outined in the Guide…all under veterinary supervision of course. I’ll see what Dr Ettinger says too.
      Dr D

  12. Melinda Buckley on March 13, 2013 at 6:45 am

    I just made an appt with you for next week. If by chance you have an opening before next Wed. pls let me know. I don’t want to wait as this is so aggressive and I don’t want to start the chemo until I see you. Or should I? Just sent the records to your office.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Melinda, I have been lecturing at the American Animal Hospital Association conference and have not been at the practice, I am sorry…
      Dr D

  13. Melinda Buckley on March 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Hi, Dr. Sue,
    Thank you for responding here. I think I would like a second opinion. The Oncologist I took him to recommended either a round of 4 radiation treatments or cytoxan. (Which just arrived in the mail) I am honestly hesitant to do anything. I am worried about the stress of radiation (going to vet, anesthia, etc) and the cost and then the idea that all that will just give us a couple of more months. My biggest concern really is his pain and suffering. If the chemo makes him sick and causes him pain, but keeps him around a few months more, is it fair to him? And if going to the Vet for radiation stresses him so much (he literally shakes like a cartoon almost, his entire body visibly vibrates), is that fair to him, too? He had acute kidney failure almost 3 yrs ago. We think he ate something toxic, we never really found out, but I spent almost 15K on his treatment and we got through it. I think he spent so much time in the hospital that this is why he is so fearful now of Vets. Anyway, I don’t want to sound like I don’t love him but to spend another 10K or so on treatment that will give him a little more time but also possibly prolong his suffering, I just don’t know if I can justify it. Thanks for responding.

  14. Melinda Buckley on March 7, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Dear Dr. D,
    Thank you so much for your time in responding. I asked the vet again yesterday why we couldn’t do surgery to remove the lymph nodes along with the tumor and he said that it’s because of where they are… it’s not just one over by the kidney but a cluster of them and they are misshapen so he feels it would be a very invasive surgery with a high risk of hemorrhaging and if he survives he might just have cancer somewhere else in a month. I guess there’s always a second opinion but my Vet and now the oncologist have not been very encouraging. Thank you for the articles, I just read them. I’ve decided not to do radiation first but will start him on the chemo pills as soon as they arrive. He didn’t tell me which ones he was prescribing. I have to admit cost and the stress of bringing him there (he is ‘over’ the Vet and literally his whole body shakes profusely there) is an issue for the radiation. they quoted me close to 9K for 4 treatments. That was the high end of the range but in my experience these things never come in at the low range. I feel badly but his kidney failure cost over 12K… and the testing for this has been already close to 2K. I tried to buy your ebook version of the guide but there isn’t a tab for it? Am I missing something?
    Thank you for being here… I am emotionally a mess as my Mom is also in Hospice. It’s a lot to lose them both at the same time… 🙁

  15. Melinda Buckley on March 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I just came back from oncologist. My almost 10 yr old PWD has anal gland cancer. It has spread to the lymph nodes in his pelvic area (?). The Onc said we could operate but would it be worth it? It was risky and difficult to get to the lymph nodes – said they’d have to pull apart his pelvic bones? And because of the size of the tumor he might have fecal incontinence.
    He said I could either do 4 wks of radiation which might buy him a few more months of comfort or chemo pills. He had a kidney issue a few years back that he fully recovered from but they worry about the toxicity of the chemo pills. I don’t know what to do. He is happy and bouncing around, eating and drinking and pooping just fine still. This was supposed to be one of the best oncologists in NY. I’m beyond devastated…Any advice help would be appreciated.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Dear Melinda,
      I am very sorry to hear this. Dog cancer sneaks up on us.
      You should read this post:
      Also, I would start thinking about treatment plan analysis:
      And finally, it may be time to start thinking about what else you can do:
      This will get you started. Discuss these other steps with your veterinarian so they can be an effective part of your team. Sometimes people have to search around to find the right vet, but many times this is not necessary.
      Hope this helps
      Dr D

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on March 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      I am sorry to hear about your dog and it is great he is still feeling well. Palliative radiation is a reasonable option if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Still, it’s hard to make specific recommendations over a blog, but I am in NY if you would like a 2nd opinion. After reviewing the medical records and doing an exam, we could review prognosis and treatment options. You can call for an appointment if you would like.

      Also check out the Guide for other support. I know, the whole thing is not easy!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  16. Robin and Michael on August 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Thank you for your reply Dr. Sue.

    Just to clarify since Charley weighs 85 lbs. the recommended dose of Apocaps for that weight is 3 capsules 3 times a day. Should we give him 1 capsule 3 times a day which would be 1/3 of the recommended dose or should we give him 1 capsule 2 times a day which would be less than a 1/4 of the dose? We understand that the dosage can vary but we want to make sure that we are not giving him too much of the Apocaps while he is on chemo and piroxicam.

    Thank you again Dr. Sue. We are truly grateful for all the information, assistance and support that you and Dr. Dressler provide.

    Best Regards,
    Robin and Michael

  17. Robin and Michael on August 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Hello Dr. Dressler,

    Our 8 year old neutered Golden Retriever, Charley, was diagnosed with an inoperable anal gland sac adenocarcinoma with metastasis to sub lumbar lymph nodes and lung about 8 weeks ago. He just completed palliative radiation treatment. He had one treatment a week for 6 weeks and he also received Carboplatin 292mg IV during the first and 4th treatments. The radiation oncologist
    feels that Charley has responded well to the treatments and the anal sac tumor has been reduced in size.

    Charley is also currently on Piroxicam 12mg one capsule daily and his calcium levels are now within the normal range.

    We recently purchased your book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and are finding it to be extremely helpful and empowering. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in our current situation and that there are things we can do to help our dog.

    We would like to start our dog on Apocaps and some of the other supplements mentioned in your book. However, we read in your book that certain supplements should not be given during the course of radiation treatment. How long should you wait after the completion of radiation treatments to begin to use Apocaps and the other supplements you recommend?

    Thank you in advance Dr. Dressler.

    Best Regards,
    Robin and Michael

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Robin and Michael,
      Sorry to hear about Charley. I typically recommend starting Apocaps 2 weeks afer raditiaon. I also suggest using the dose for the weight category below his weight while on chemo. But if he is on piroxicam, I would reduce to 1/4 the recommended dose. There is more info on http://www.apocaps.com
      Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  18. Tina on June 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Update on Kia – They did the ultrasound and found one lymph node enlarged that was pressing on her rectum, but no other tumors found so surgeon was hopefull he could get it all – we proceeded with the surgery removed the one anal sac and both lymph nodes on 6-8-12, she was real soar first few days home but by day three she was jumping on the couch – doing just great – had her calcium levels checked on 6-21-12 and she was at 11. She’s back on the K-9 immunity – has been since we brought her home on 6-10-12. Kia has been on grain free diet since her spleen sarcoma 5 yrs. ago. I will pull out my cancer guide book from the last time and freshen up on other supplements. We have made the decision to not do any chemo. We are just going to love her to pieces as long as we can – keep up with the K-9 immunity, and pray for as much time as we can get. Thanks – for the suggestion on diet and getting out my guide to freshen up.

  19. chrystal on June 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    My dog Reba had a high calcium level June 2011 after our vet performed a rectal and found a mass on her left anal gland we immediately went into surgery the next day our vet was confident he got it all. The lab report came back confirming an adenocarcinoma. She recovered wonderfully her calcium level went from 13 to 10.4 in 2 weeks we were so happy!! March 2012 during her annual we ran blood work which we do every 6 months and her calcium was back to 13 we followed that with another rectal exam which confirmed our fear the tumor was back! Back to surgery the next day it went well she recovered within a week. 2 weeks after the surgery we ran bloodwork to make sure calcium was down and it was 10 again we were so happy!!! 3 days ago Reba was having urinary issues so after running a urinalysis and a course of clavamox antibiotics. We were still having issues so we ran blood work now to remind you we had just ran blood work 4weeks ago with normal results, her calcium is now 16 and kidneys are failing this is after 2 surgeries the last being two months ago we are heartbroken because there is nothing we can do at this point she is a 9 yr old husky who we just had to put basically on hospice care.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on June 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Dear Chrystal,
      so sorry!
      This is a hard time. There are many good emotional management exercises that can help in the Guide, and also a whole slew of dietary and supplement steps that may be able to provide a little relief during this difficult.
      Here is a post to get you started:

      All my best
      Dr D

  20. Tina on June 7, 2012 at 5:50 am

    We just received the bad news on our Kia – 13 yr old springer spaniel who was having problems pooping, finally a vet after 3rd rectal exam in a 2 week period, by a third vet, found the mass. Results from the asperation came back it’s malignant. We are taking her to board certified surgeon tomorrow. We have been through cancer with Kia before 5 yrs ago when she had her spleen removed for a grapefruit size sacroma on it. We never did chemo on her then – we changed her diet right away and put her on K-9 immunity – she did great – even though the vets told us without chemo she was only expected to survive less than a year. They still can’t believe she is alive today. Unfortunatly money got tight so we took her off the K-9 immunity after about 2 yrs post op. Now I wish we had never done that. I just rush overnight ordered a new supply – we are planning to do the surgery tomorrow to remove the tumor – her calcium levels were high in the blood work done on Tuesday, but other than that the vet said her blood and urinalysis was all normal, so that’s good. I know they are going to want to do an ultrasound, and x-ray to see if it has spread. If her blood work looks good I’m wondering if we can skip those very expensive tests and just hope it hasn’t spread and that if it has the K-9 immunity will do it’s job like it did the last time. Because honestly if it has spread, knowing it won’t change or deceision to do chemo or radiation. We do not plan on doing chemo or radiation, we didn’t the last time because her stress level is so high when she is at the vet we felt it was best to treat holistically and hope for the best – if she’s going to die – we want her to be as comfortable as possible. Has anyone found success with anal sac cancer treating it just with surgery and K-9 immunity? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on June 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Dear Tina
      Sorry to hear this tough news.
      I would discuss skipping the staging if you need to. You can only do what you can do.
      A post for you:

      I would not rely solely on the K-9 immunity right now as your dog’s physiology has shifted into a pro-cancer state. I would suggest a much broader overall approach (more tools) such as diet, apoptogens, antimetastatics, and so on discussed in the Guide, along with a beta glucan supplement like K-9 Immunity. Details are in the Guide.

      Dr D

  21. Cindy on October 21, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Jane, I am very interested to know how masitinib worked (or didn’t work) for your dog. I’d also be interested if anyone else has any experience using mastinib (kinavet) to treat anal sac cancer. My almost 14-yr-old female lab was on Palladia with good results for about a year, but it appears it has stopped working. We are considering starting masitinib to see if it helps, but our oncologist doesn’t know of any cases of masitinib being used to treat anal sac cancer. We previously did surgery to remove the anal sac and used mitoxantrone, but the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes by about 9 months after. We then tried carboplatin with very poor results. Then it was Palladia, which was really like a godsend for about a year; she had a little tummy upset and maybe some increased lameness, but the tummy issues weren’t as bad as on carboplatin or mitoxantrone. Palladia had worked so well for so long, I was really surprised to find out it was not working anymore. But, I am still grateful that my dog has made it through the past 2.5 years since her diagnosis considering it is such an aggressive cancer. I need to try out the cancer diet, but my dog has allergies, so we avoid chicken, pork, lamb, beef, corn, soy, and wheat. She has been eating venison or fish dog food and actual venison, when I can get it. Thank goodness it is almost deer season in Texas. I may have to take up hunting to feed my dog, at this rate!

    Again, if Jane or anyone else has any experience using mastinib (kinavet) to treat anal sac cancer, please post! Many thanks, and good luck to everyone else dealing with this really nasty cancer.

  22. Susan on August 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm


    I am sorry that I had not seen your post earlier. I certainly understand, as well as everyone on this posting, exactly what you are going through. This stuff is a very fast progressing type of cancer and can grow so quickly. This is probably why you found it and not someone else during a checkup or during grooming. I have a 10 year old beagle who had one removed that was large like your pet’s. I found her tumor myself. I took her in to see my vet and we went ahead and did surgery the next day. She did just great during surgery. When I picked her up, she came out walking quickly almost running, and was so ready to come home. She didn’t really seem to be in pain, although I did give her pain medication as directed. She experienced a little fecal incontinence for about 5 or 6 days after surgery. I used the disposable adult pads around the area she would lay in the house and used baby wipes to clean her up to keep her surgical site clean. After just a few days post-op, I started taking her out to her favorite places to walk to encourage her to continue her normal routine and I feel that this helped her regain muscle control. By her post-op check up one week later, she had mained all control of her bowel movements. She did great. As far as diagnostic tools, I had ultrasounds and x-rays persformed as well as blood work done to get a grasp of everything that was going on with her. This type of cancer releases a pseudo hormone that will make their calcium level skyrocket. Once the tumor was removed her calcium went to normal. So this is one thing that I am monitoring. No matter what you decide to do, there are many options that you can choose from or combine: surgery, chemo, radiation, diet change, supplements, and I am sure I am forgetting something. But basically you have to find what best for you and your pet. Dr. Dressler’s book helps you with this process. In my case, I did surgery and due to other things going on with my pet, I am unable to do any treatments other than diet change and supplements, which is a large contributor to fighting cancer alone. So in addition to this, I am treating her for her other issues. Dr. Dressler has a diet that really works well with my pet that you can find here: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/ in case you haven’t already stumbled on this. (Also read a few posts up and you will see where you can get his guide and supplements if you are interested.) I just want to wish you the best with your dog, and I hope everything works out well for you guys. And believe me, I am one that takes my pet every where with me traveling unless I have to fly. She is part of me and I certainly understand what you must be going through.

  23. Elaine S. on July 24, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I just found a walnut sized rock hard tumor on my dogs right anal area. The vet took a needle aspiration and I will get the results in the next two days. I am brokenhearted just thinking about what is to come, he is a very happy 12 yr old poodle wheaton mix. My vet is not the vet I would have treat him or do surgery so I will be looking for someone who has expertise with this type of tumor. I live in Los Angeles, in the SIlverlake area, and would appreciate any oncology referrals. Being in the healthcare field myself and having read all of the poor stats about survival, surgery complications, and poor coutcomes I have great reservations about putting my dog through surgery. For those of you who did, was it worth it? How long was your dog in pain? Do you feel that their quality of life has improved? Are they able to have normal bowel movements without pain? I have so many fears and reservations and yet I want to act quickly in his best interest. I was feeling optomistic reading some of the surgery stories here. I will have lab work and xrays done this week to see if his kidneys are being affected and if it has spread – why my vet didn’t do those tests the same day that we found it (this past Saturday) I do not know. And I will tell you that I am also angry that being so dilligent and taking him in for check ups regularly and having his anal glands expressed every time he’s at the groomers – NO ONE felt this hard mass growning sooner!!? I found it by chance by lifting him onto the bed with my hand on his butt. I was shocked to feel something so hard and so ominous. What’s the point of regular check ups if a vet doesn’t put his hands all over your dog and feels for what is possible?? Weight and a temperature I can do on my own, I don’t need a doctor for that. And if a groomer is squeezing his anal sacs and feeling this and not mentioning it…… It’s just so sad….. I want to do whatever will give him the best quality of life for as long as I can.

  24. Susan on July 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Dr. Dressler,

    I forgot to mention that the diet from your book has been a life saver for me. I had her on Hills Rx RD for weight control for the longest and then when all this occurred with the gallbladder and cancer, she stopped eating almost at once. I tried a few prescription diets and after a can or two, she wouldn’t touch it. I was getting very concerned because she had already lost about 3 pounds. I also bought about 20 different types of other dog food just trying to get her to eat, which never seemed to work. She turned down things that she would beg for in the past even tuna. If I got her to eat a cup of anything I was doing really good. I had already got your ebook so I decided to give your diet a try. So when I made it for the first time, I was so excited when she ate. It didn’t take long at all to prepare and I can make it within 5-10 minutes once I got the process down. Also, thank you for mentioning the Blue Baffalo grain free food. I bought some of that also and this is the only dog food that she will actually eat. So I give it to her occasionally as an alternative to use. So I feel like I have “struck gold” and wanted again to thank you for that material that you included in your book.

  25. Susan on July 24, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you for responding. We are currently monitoring all liver markers/enzymes, calcium as well as performing ultrasounds to check for changes in the gallbladder. I gave my vet a copy of the information on the apocaps. Thank you so much for your input. 🙂


  26. Jane on July 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    My dog was diagnosed with a right anal sac tumor in January 2011. We removed the tumor and 4 enlarged lymph nodes. She mitoxantrone and carboplatin, alternating each of them for a total of 3 each (6 treatments total). The treatments were 3-4 weeks apart, depending on her white blood counts. She had no ill effects from chemo treatments. I have fed a raw diet to this dog since she was a puppy. I continued with the raw food during the treatments and increased the amounts of fish oil. She also received Artemisinin, OncoSupport, Maqui Select, and ImmPower supplements. I added ozone therapy on the weeks she didn’t have chemo. In addition, she has been on a homeopathic plan that includes Ruta grav., lycopodium, carcinocin, and cell salts.

    Now that the initial chemo is over and my dog is still feeling really well, we have started Masitinib. I’m curious about anyone else’s experience with it as a preventive at this point. There were mixed reviews about Palladia, but Masitinib is supposed to be a safer option.


    • DemianDressler on July 20, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Dear Jane,
      you may want to consider apoptogen supplements as well and some of the anti metastatics in the Guide like modified citrus pectin. Always work with your vet when making treatment changes-

  27. Susan on July 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    I have a question about APOCAPS. I have an almost 10 year old beagle who had an adenocarcinoma tumor removed surgically along with her right anal gland in June. The results are posted above but basically it looks like my vet got all of the tumor. There’s no evidence that she has any enlarged lymph nodes or any other tumors according to all the tests that we had performed. However, during the ultrasound they discovered that she has the early stages of mucocele gallbladder. Due to her age and a few other issues (gallbladder, cortical cysts in her kidney and on one side a slightly enlarged heart) we decided not to follow up the surgery with chemo. My vet consulted with another vet that specializes in the mucocele-type surgeries, and since she had two surgeries in the last four months and now a history of cancer, they both felt that at this time it was probably better to try to medically manage the gallbladder issues with actigall and denamarin first to see if can be turned around. In the interim, I have changed her to the cancer diet, vitamins, and of course lots of love. Once we started the medicine and new diet, she really seemed to perk up, so we do feel so far this is helping. So my question is, would you recommend giving apocaps to a dog that has gallbladder issues such as I have described above, or do you have any reservations? Thanks! Susan

    • DemianDressler on July 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Dear Susan,
      if this were my patient, I would use apocaps but under supervision, monitoring liver markers, which would be a good idea regardless. I would start with 1/4 to 1/2 the labeled dose on the bottle, given with food. Remember to have your vet involved in any treatment decisions. I might also be considering anti metastatics discussed in the Guide (modified citrus pectin for example).
      Hope this helps
      Best, D

  28. Casey on July 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Susan,

    You may join artemisinin_and_cancer group in yahoo. The people there have been very helpful to me, I got my regimen there. Seems to be working very fine until now.

    Good luck!

  29. Susan on June 28, 2011 at 3:38 am


    I am curious to what your regimen is. What you are feeding her and how much of the supplements, etc…


  30. Susan on June 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you guys so much for sharing your information with me. It’s so overwhelming looking at all the material on the internet, reading and trying to make decisions especially since apocrine cancer isn’t addressed as much as one of the “major types” of cancer. I also wondered why no one had staged her cancer even with having all the results back from surgery, blood work, x-rays, ultrasound, and multiple doctors. Upon performing the ultrasound the radiologist found that although she didn’t have any visible signs of cancer, she had early stages of a mucocele gallbladder as well as multiple cysts in her kidney. She was more concerned about the gallbladder rupturing than the fact that we were scanning to see if the cancer had metastasized. So at this time it doesn’t look like doing treatments would be wise with her cysts and especially a gallbladder that could rupture. So I am looking into possible surgery for that and waiting for the results of additional blood work to come back. About seven weeks ago she completely stopped eating any commercial dog food. I tried just about everything but now I know that’s probably because the gallbladder. However, from what I read in the cancer book that may not be a bad thing. So I am going to start more with the cancer diet for now if I can get her to eat that. She is really picky. I am not sure what type of supplements I can give her with a gallbladder like this. I had ordered some of the APOCAPS and was going to get some of the K9 Immunity supplements but wasn’t sure how her gallbladder may react to that. So right now I am praying, treading water and being very thankful that at least I know what’s going on so that I may have a chance to help her. Thank you again so much for responding.

  31. Casey on June 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    my dog was diagnosed august 2010 to have anal sac adenocarcinoma. once we found out the tumor (because of bleeding from her vagina), we decided to have it removed by surgery and then followed by three weeks of chemotherapy. chemo was terrible, she wouldn’t eat for a week so we decided to stop that. she lost a lot of weight and began to feel depressed. after a week she then came back to her normal being, we changed her diet to no grain and added supplements to her diet. one of the most important medicines that i think contributed to her being back to normal again was Artemisinin. with that, we also gave Transfer Factor, Vitamin E, milk thistle and CoQ10. she has this little cyst on her side, if she’s on her meds it flattens, if we don’t give her for a week it grows a little again. i got this regimen from my vet who had at least 2 patients take the regimen and tumor didn’t come back again. after several months, my dog had bleeding again from her vagina, it wasn’t UTI and it wasn’t from another tumor that might have came back. we had her spayed and all the bleeding was completely gone for about another 4 months. now, here she is having slight pinkish bleeding again from her urine, just like before. i wouldn’t know what the cause is, i’ll have to bring her to the vet again. but now she’s eating perfectly normal and behaving perfectly well, a dog who doesn’t seem to have cancer at all! she’s 5 years old and hoping to live another 5 or more years with her! any inputs on the cause of the bleeding will help. and if anyone needs the regimen, just let me know 🙂

    all the best,

  32. Kathy McLeod on June 24, 2011 at 10:36 am


    It sounds like your doing a wonderful job taking care of your baby. He’s very lucky to have you caring for him. It wasn’t my intention to suggest that chemo and radiation was the best, or the only strategy for treatment. I used chemo and then radiation with my boy, but NOT with my little girl. Emmy had the kidney issues so I was reluctant to use the chemo. She was diagnosed (anal sac carcinoma) about 1 1/2 yrs earlier than her brother and I used only the holistic route with her because of my concern for her kidneys. She did very well for several yrs with just the special diet and chinese herbs. It was later that I discovered that acupuncture would help with her blood pressure (I’m not sure if the blood pressure causes the kidney issue or the other way around?:). In time about 2 1/2 yrs after her cancer diagnosis the cancer spread to her spleen and liver. I’m not sure if she would have done better than that even with chemo treatment. So your little one will do fine….there isn’t a right or wrong decision about the choice for treatment. It’s just knowing the options…which took me some time to fully understand. With her brother who developed the same cancer I decided to do chemo and he did fine for a little while too. I was just frustrated with later seeing that we could have done more (seeing the oncology specialist and hearing all the options which should have included radiation). There’s no right way….I went two seperate routes because I happened to face the same cancer in a short period of time. I just wanted to pass on some of my experience so someone else may not have to start from scratch in gathering information. I had the unfortunate experience of losing 3 of my dogs within 6 months….my head was just spinning at the time, with trying to make decisions. I’m in Canada, and there wasn’t an oncologist in our province, so it was tough to get the most current info. That’s why the university was so helpful at the time….but they probably wouldn’t be on board with the holistic route. But I know from my experience it can work too.
    I’m sorry if my emails were sounding judgemental. It wasn’t my intention. I think the topic may be still a little emotional for me. I know you’re making all the right decisions for your baby and..most importantly it sounds like he’s happy and enjoying life. The most important thing! And yes seeing lots of doctors and having treatments is very stressful for them.
    I wish you the very best.

  33. Ann on June 24, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Kathy, thanks for the information. I didn’t think about high blood pressure being the cause of the kidney problems. You are right Benazeril is used for high blood pressure. That wasn’t explained when we put him on the pills and I never thought to make the connection. After reading your other post I was feeling a bit guilty for not going the chemo route, but in my heart of hearts I know it would not have been the right decision for us. It is so difficult because you can’t explain it to them and is hard enough when it is a person who at some level can understand what may happen. out seems a city the size of where I live would be overrun with holistic vets but it isn’t or a vet school either. Although he does well going to his usual local vet when I was dragging him around to second opinion and onco he was stressed. So dragging him out of town to a strange smelling place would probably stress him even more. I understand stress is not a good thing so trying to keep that to a minimum (which gives you a very spoiled fur baby! But he deserves it!). It has been 4 months now since diagnosis and he still is running up and down the stairs, jumping on the bed, eating, wanting treats, going for walks and rides – acting normal. I am so thankful for the reprieve from what others have to deal with and for each “normal”day. Will continue the hunt for a holistic vet close by. Thanks again.

  34. Kathy McLeod on June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

    You could try to locate a Holistic vet who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are several Chinese Herbs which are cancer fighters. They’re added to their food, just like the mushrooms etc. that you’re using now. In fact one of the herbs is a mushroom mix. This was helpful for my female (the sister of my boy I wrote about yesterday) who had anal sac carcinoma, as well. I was reluctant to use chemotherapy with her because she also had kidney problems. I have since learned that some chemo drugs don’t tax the kidneys as much as others. Carboplatin is considered to be one of the safer drugs for the kidneys.

    You mentioned that your dog was taking Benazeril (?..not sure of the spelling) for his kidney problems. It sounds like he may have a similar kidney issue as my girl did. If he’s taking this drug to help lower his blood pressure..which may be part of the kidney issue. I discovered that acupuncture can also lower their blood pressure. I found a Holistic vet who helped with the herbs, and also was very good at acupuncture. She found a way to use acupuncture to lower my girls blood pressure. We still used the western drug, but we were able to keep her dose lower by supplementing with regular acupunture. It really worked.

    Take care

  35. Kathy McLeod on June 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Susan

    I started to write you a message, and my computer just ate it, so if you end up with 2 , I apologize.

    Maybe this time, I can be more to the point, and shorter. I had 2 dogs who ended up dying from anal sac carcinoma. I’d like to pass on some things I learned from their journeys.
    First..find an oncologist or as I did…a veterinarian training hospital where they train oncology specialists. I started by working with local vets who meant well, but didn’t have the knowledge and expertise. The time lost was very detrimental.
    I finally went to Washington State Veterinarian Training Hospital. The care and level of expertise there was phenominal. Anal sac carcinoma is a treatable cancer, but you have to work with someone who can provide the best assessment(very important!..just because the cancer isn’t visible elsewhere, doesn’t mean it isn’t there microscopically).
    The university dr’s used an MRI to see the total picture, and we did several treatments of RADIATION therapy (some of my local dr’s ..who were internal medicine specialists, believed radiation treatment wasn’t used on this cancer…This was not true!) The radiation treatments were followed by LOW DOSE CHEMOTHERAPY TABLETS given by me at home. The radiation had few side effects..none really other than some hair loss.
    Before going to the university hospital my boy received chemotherapy by IV from local vets (every 3 wks) but it was not very effective in the long term. Going to the university and having their assessment and state of the art treatment was crucial to his treatment. Unfortunately by the time I took him there the cancer had advanced significantly and the university was able to only give us another 6 months,,,but he was happy and much more comfortable during that time.
    Also I had a specialist create a cancer diet for him, which I made. Diet is very important.
    If you do end up giving your girl Iv chemotherapy every 3 weeks, (which may end up being the best for her) I found that an acupuncture treatment right afterwards, helped alleviate the side effects. And there are traditional Chinese medicine herbs that help too. Combine the western medicine with holistic medicine to compliment it.

    I wish you and your girl the very best of luck. See a specialist, please. I travelled from Canada to Washington to see them and it was the best thing I did. And the cost was more reasonable than my local vets..because the University was a training facility. If you can’t get to them, see if they’ll work in a consulting role with your vet. You can beat this!

    My thoughts are with you.

  36. Ann on June 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

    My dog too was diagnosed on February 21 after having the tumor removed several weeks earlier. Removal was clean with narrow margins. He had xrays and ultrasound which came back normal including lymph nodes (hadn’t spread). The oncologist said that this type of cancer was not normally staged (which is different from what I am reading?) And recommended carboplatin treatments or palladia. At that point seeing that it hadn’t spread and with no real assurances of the chemo doing anything, we elected to not do chemo. I did change his diet to a no grain food but have to watch the protein due to kidney problems for which he takes benazeril (and throxin for thyroid). I have also been adding brocolli, shitake mushrooms and krill oil to his kibble. Today is 4 months since diagnosis and he seems to be doing fine, still running up and down stairs, going for short walks, riding in the car and dragging out toys to play. We did have a scare last week when a lump showed up in his “arm pit”, but fine needle aspiration indicated fat lump. Not sure what else to be doing.

    • DemianDressler on June 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Dear Ann,
      I am sorry to hear that you have yet another dog with this disease. You should realize that different oncologists will do different things, but it does seem prudent to gauge the extent of spread, especially if late in the disease. I might suggest a mixed beta glucan supplement (I like the old K-9 immunity preparation without the flavoring and fish oil), apoptogens, and having a happy life with regular veterinary and oncologist follow up’s.
      Dr D

  37. Susan on June 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    That’s five treatments consisting of one treatment every three weeks.

  38. Susan on June 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I have a 9 year old spayed female beagle and on June 8th my dog had a tumor removed surgically along with her right anal gland. Upon surgery X-rays for lungs were fine, and there was no evidence that she had any enlarged lymph nodes. At this time we haven’t performed an ultrasound and plan to do so next week.. She went into surgery with a calcium level of 18 and on June 14th her calcium has come down to 11.8. My vet believes that they got all of the tumor and she is doing fine now; however, I am researching to see what options may be available as far treatments and experience with this type of tumor. I have copied and pasted below a copy of her histopathology report. Any information would be appreciated deeply, and would like to see what type of chemo you suggest or if you suggest that since the tumor is removed. My vet said that it was about the size of a gold ball. Thanks!.

    Accession No.

    Test Results Adult Reference Range L Normal H
    Histopathology, Full Written Report (Antech Diagnostics)


    This mass represents a malignant neoplasm originating from the
    apocrine glands of the anal sac region. It consists of solid and
    cystic nests of neoplastic glandular and ductal cells which are often
    separated by a moderately dense fibrovascular stroma. Some lobules
    contain compact areas of neoplastic cells exhibiting a low to moderate
    level of mitotic activity. The mitotic rate is 4-6/10 hpf. Lymphatic
    tumor emboli are seen near the anal sac which is included in the
    sections. There is a background of mixed suppurative inflammation and
    hemorrhage at several margins.



    Apocrine tumors of this type often cause hypercalcemia through a
    pseudoparathyroid effect. When present, hypercalcemia can be used as a
    prognostic indicator. This neoplasm has metastatic potential.
    Prognosis is guarded. Morphology is characteristic of an intermediate
    to high grade malignancy which has metastatic potential. The lesion
    is apparently excised with narrow (1-4 mm) margins. The potential for
    recurrence is moderate to high.

    P.S. I forgot to mention that my vet suggests doxirubicin treatments (5 treatments to be given every 3 weeks).

Scroll To Top