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

What is Treatment Plan Analysis?

Updated: May 15th, 2024

Imagine you want to spend some time somewhere.  Maybe the mountains, maybe the city…it is time for a trip.

There are many ways to get there.  Perhaps having as much time as possible there is your main goal. Maybe you drive at breakneck speed to get there, wasting no time, and extend your time there an extra few days.  The drive takes a lot of focus but you muscle through it.

Maybe you pay big bucks for a ticket on a high speed jet and extend your time there even more.

Either way, you pay.  Your priority is getting the longest time at your destination.

But some of you would rather enjoy the road there. Maybe a leisurely drive is best, taking photos and having picnics. Could be some would enjoy a low cost train ride through scenic country.

Sure, you get less days there, but you have different priorities than the first group. Even if your time at your destination is less, it does not matter, since high speed is not for you.

Different approaches to the same destination. Different priorities. Different budgets, different beliefs, different preferences.

Sure sounds like approaches to dog cancer, doesn’t it?

No matter what anyone says, the cure rate for true systemic malignancies is quite low at this time.  In other words, we currently do not (yet) have a cure for cancer.

On top of this, it cannot be denied that life expectancy gains in many cases of dog cancer treatment are modest at best.

With these facts in mind, who can say what the best way to treat dog cancer is?  Sure, there are a bunch of conventional or unconventional recommendations, but these will not be appropriate for all dogs, nor their guardians.

On the other hand, we do have a very large arsenal to choose from to maximize life expectancy and life quality.  This is especially true if we consider not only the usual (surgery, chemo and radiation) but also the more rarely discussed (diet, supplements, acupuncture, touch therapies,chronotherapy, photoperiod manipulation and so on).

For those of you that want a large arsenal, you should definitely check out both The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and Apocaps.

Some issues that make each case unique:

  • Normal life expectancy of your dog
  • Life expectancy with your dog’s cancer
  • Treatment side effect odds (what are the chances?)
  • Treatment side effect severity (how bad are they?)
  • How trips to and from treatment influence life quality (easy for some, hard on some)
  • Ability to pay for cost of treatment
  • Amount of nursing care needed from guardian (what is your schedule?)
  • Other (non-cancer) health issues affecting your dog’s life expectancy
  • Other health issues affecting your dog’s life quality

Since there is no “correct” treatment plan for dog cancer that is the same for each case, it is very , very wise to analyze your dog’s cancer treatment plan.

Do a treatment plan analysis before the treatment plan and also regularly during your dog’s treatment. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide breaks these topics down systematically if you would like more assistance in this. It is not hard, you just have to do it.


Dr Dressler

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  2. Kerry on July 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I have a 12 to 13 year old Basset mix. (looks like a short black lab) He has oral melanoma. It is a pink and black lobulated mass on the inside right cheek at level of molars. I believe it is larger than 2cm.
    A biopsy was taken on July 9th but the mass was not surgically removed due to a newly discovered heart murmur. I did not get a stage on the path report. His chest xray showed mild enlargement of the right side of the heart and no eveidence of pulmonary metastatic disease. His CBC/diff and chem panel are normal. Right submandibular lymph node is normal in size and aspirate did not contain anything other than some normal blood cells. Parker started Oncept on July 20th. Is radiation therapy worthwile in a dog of this age and with this state of health?
    Thanks- Kerry Mesa, AZ

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