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

Bone Cancer Pain: New Ideas

Updated: February 20th, 2019

Many who love a dog with bone cancer need information to make sure pain is managed.  Bone cancers are often very painful.  Since life quality is so essential for us when making medical choices, we need to always control pain.

Bone cancer is often first noticed as a limp.  Many times I have had a dog lover tell me they were worried about arthritis or a sprain, and the diagnosis turned out to be osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, or other bone cancer.  This is one reason why it is so critical to get an X-ray done, especially if you have a large breed dog, being more prone to bone cancers.

A new cutting edge treatment for bone cancer pain in dogs is a drug approved for use in humans called Quadramet.  It is given as an injection during a hospital stay.  Quadramet, also called Samarium- 153-EDTMP, slows the breakdown of bone.  In doing so, it helps alleviate pain.

A number of studies have been done.  Most show that this treatment helps roughly 60 or 70% of dogs with bone cancer pain.

Quadramet does have some risks, but they appear to be manageable at this time.  The drug does tend to suppress the bone marrow, although temporarily. This means that cells like platelets (which help control bleeding) and white blood cells (which fight infection), decrease in numbers.

The good news is that at the doses of Quadramet being used currently, these side effects tend to resolve all by themselves.

Check out Chapter 17 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more helpful information on pain and pain management for your dog with cancer

The use of this therapy to help with pain is very new, and availability may be limited.  Research has been done at the University of Missouri and at the University of Washington.

Not many veterinarians in private practice will have heard of Quadramet or Samarium- 153-EDTMP.  However, oncologists will have likely heard of it or may use it.  Most using Quadramet will be at advanced veterinary facilities.

As usual, I encourage you to be your dog’s primary health care advocate, and get the info you need!

For more information, click on The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

All my best,

Dr. D

Leave a Comment

  1. Bob Richards on February 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Quadramet is not a narcotic. It is a radioisotope with a 46 day half-life.
    I am now trying to locate a veterinary or university to get this for my 13 year old boxer. The effects last 3-4months and currently used on folks at end stage cancer and only as a palliative. But… studies are underway to investigate use in therapy ad indications are I early stage, the quadramets can affect surface proteins of cancer cells in manner which allows immune system to recognize cancer cells as foreign bodies. And… the body’s white blood cells then begin to attack and destroy the cancer cells.
    Promising but too late for my boxer. I am just looking for the palliative effect.
    How about it Doc, where do I go in Virginia for Quadramets for my Boxer?
    Thank you.

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