A reader of this blog asked a provocative question with a few different parts. Let’s look at it more closely to help all the guardians dealing with a dog cancer diagnosis.
First, he wrote that his Golden Retriever (the number one breed for canine cancer now) is diagnosed with cancer. Next, he wrote that the vets do not know the type.
This deserves some attention. First, it can be quite hard to diagnose cancer for sure without a biopsy report. However, there are a few cases that are exceptions. One example is bone cancer, which can be fairly accurately diagnosed with X-rays. However, there still may be some uncertainty as several infections can mimic cancer of the bone, in particular fungal infections.
A biopsy should always be attempted if possible. The reason for this is the cancer type gives us information about survival times and best conventional care options specific for the cancer type. Different cancers fare better or worse with different approaches, have different response rates, and different outcomes. This is very important information.
This guardian insisted on an X-ray, where we can assume one was not advised by the vet. This is an excellent example of pet advocacy, vigilance, and guardianship. Here, the guardian was correct and the vet would have missed the diagnosis. This is great work. Having the test done to confirm the problem (get a diagnosis) is the best approach.
Secondly, one needs to know if there are signs of spread, with a 3 view chest X-ray as a minimum. Metastasis would change things quite quickly as it would mean that surgical removal would be less beneficial.
This guardian has a vet that is described as homeopathic. It is a fair assumption to make in this case that the vet is “holistic” or “alternative”. In these cases in is reasonable to assume that we have a vet who has bias in recommendations, against conventional medicine. If this dog truly has cancer, a bias like this excludes treatments that may help the dog. (The same could be said of a vet that was “anti alternative”).
The treatment plan called for acupuncture, Neoplasene, Bone Stasis and Wei Qi Booster. There is no mention of surgical removal of the growth. This is an important consideration, for life quality reasons and possibly longevity reasons as well. It may be that surgery is excluded, but there should be an assessment before exclusion based on a careful analysis. The same can be said for chemotherapy and radiation.
We need to pay attention to diet, of course (free download above). We need to pay significant attention to the big gun apoptogens discussed in the Guide (Apocaps is the most handy, between rounds of Neoplasene), and artemisinin and doxycyline should be considered as well for bone cancers, as discussed in the guide. Pamindronate may be needed at some point. Omega 3 sources like krill oil would be a nice benefit as well. Finally, beta-glucan containing medicinal mushrooms or AHCC should be added to the mix to help slow metastasis.
Of course, one should always deliberately increase the Joys in Life and help restore a healthy cancer-fighting brain chemistry in our special family members.
The bottom line here is that if one is indeed coping with bone cancer of the shoulder or elsewhere, Full Spectrum Care advocates using all available resources to extend life and keep life quality high. Cancers of the bone are almost always extremely serious cancers and should be treated aggressively.
Good luck to Aaron and his Golden,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.