Prostate cancer in the dog is very different from that in people. Not because the cancers themselves are that different, but because treatment success is different.
This has not been good news for our dogs. The success rates (due to surgical techniques, mainly) for dealing with human prostate cancer are much better than for dogs.
However those of you who are close to a veterinary school or referral center may be able to take advantage of radiation therapy for prostate cancers of different kinds. This can help, so read on.
One specific kind of radiation therapy is during an operation, where the prostate cancer is exposed surgically. This allows the beam to really contact the tumor. This treatment is called intraoperative radiation.
A study was done looking at this procedure and its success rates. Here is the abstract if you are interested.
What are the facts? As usual, we need these as a critical part of our treatment plan analysis.
Analyzing a treatment plan before starting, or upon re-assessment, is a major part of being your dog’s primary health advocate. This is a big topic in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Since there is no cure (yet) for cancer, there is no “correct” way to treat many cancers in dogs. Thus, we must gather and weigh information, including our own values and judgments.
About half the dogs receiving intraoperative radiation for the prostate cancer enjoyed a complete remission, which lasted about 6 months. In the world of Hard-To-Cure cancers, as tough as it is to accept, this is not that bad.
The complications of radiation in this area included inflammation of the colon (colitis), which occurs in a little over half the dogs. Roughly one fifth of the dogs that received pelvic radiation ended up with a hole in the colon (perforation). These numbers were taken from another study looking at radiation in the pelvic area (which is where the prostate gland lives).
This is pretty nasty, but the majority (about four out of five) dogs did not develop a hole in their colon. So the odds are still decent. You should also realize that many of the dogs in the safety study had a radiation potentiator (a special sponge with cisplatin in it) implanted at the surgery site, so these stats are not just for strict radiation only. This sponge usually helps increase survival times.
However, I will point out that a perforation of the colon would require a second surgery, and for many dog lovers dealing with this particular case that might be too much for their loved dogs. This should be considered.
Here is the study on these complications.
Since prostate cancer is a tough one, I hope that this information may help as a part of a Full Spectrum Approach to dog cancer.