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

Why Don’t They Catch Mesothelioma Earlier??

Updated: July 5th, 2021


When a rare common has the same symptoms as a common illness, how do vets diagnose it? And why don’t they think of cancer earlier??

Today’s Dog Cancer Answers podcast episode tackles a sensitive subject: why veterinarians don’t always catch cancer early.

Renee has called in with a question about her experience with mesothelioma. Why on EARTH, did it take so long for her dog to get an accurate diagnosis? And now that they know what he has, what treatments should she use?

Dr. Demian Dressler answers both questions. The bottom line on why it took so long is this:

When your dog’s cancer has identical symptoms to a much more common condition, they assume it’s probably the much more common condition, not cancer.

This is REALLY typical in medicine. Doctors have a saying: “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”

Unless you live in a place with LOTS of zebras, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb.

Symptoms like fluid in the belly, coughing, and trouble breathing usually indicate heart problems in dogs.

So they get treated for heart disease. Only when those treatments don’t work, do vets think about other possibilities. And heart disease is something that is hard to treat … so it can be something vets “give up on.”

Mesothelioma is really uncommon, so it took Renee’s veterinarians a while to diagnose it.

As for how to treat it, Dr. Dressler listed the following as places to start.

  • Apocaps
  • K9 Immunity
  • Modified Citrus Pectin
  • Oral Neoplasene
  • Oral Mirtazepine
  • Palladia
  • Low Dose Naltrexone

This is a complicated protocol and needs to be supervised by a veterinarian, of course.

You can read the transcript on the episode page on the Dog Cancer Answers website.

Here’s the video version of the podcast:

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Warm Aloha,


PS: Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.

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Further Reading:

You can look up Superfund sites near you on the EPA’s website: Search for Superfund Sites Where You Live | Superfund | US EPA

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