Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide
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Full Spectrum Cancer Care Step 1: Conventional Treatments

Why I love being an oncologist

In my first blog, I wrote about that many people I meet cannot believe I am an oncologist for dogs and cats. I know it sounds weird, maybe even corny, but I am so thankful for my job. As the year comes to a close, I have thought a lot recently about how grateful I…

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How Long to “Watch and Wait”

Last week I told you about two recent cases in which the tumors were too big for surgery by the time they came to me. I also promised to give you some guidelines about how long to wait when your vet says “let’s just monitor this.” Too many lumps and bumps are being monitored for…

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Waiting and watching — but for how long?

Have you been told to “just watch” a lump or mass on your dog by a veterinarian? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have. I too have advised that to my pet Guardians.  But how long is ok? What size is too big?  Are there actual guidelines? In my veterinary training, I was taught that…

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Mast cell tumor treatment: chemotherapy

In my last blog, I discussed surgery and radiation for MCT. Today we will focus on chemotherapy. Which dogs need chemo? Your dog may not even need chemotherapy. In many dogs that I see with MCT, I do not recommend chemotherapy at all. This is because chemotherapy is not as effective as surgery and radiation…

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Mast cell tumor treatment: surgery and radiation

We’ve spent a number of recent blogs understanding how MCT behave, how to confirm the diagnosis, MCT grade, what staging tests to consider, and what the prognostic predictors are. Now let’s talk treatment. First, let’s think about the three main conventional tools oncologist use to treat tumors: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In general, it is…

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Staying vigilant with mass aspirates

I am a huge advocate of aspirating every lump and bump on your dog, even though many turn out to be benign cysts or lipomas (fatty tumors). The story below will illustrate why I’m so vigilant, but first, a little about aspirates. Aspirate: What Is It? When there’s a lump or bump on the surface…

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The oncologist’s thoughts on what to do after the aspirate confirms mast cell tumor?

In my recent blog, we discussed the aspirate that confirmed the diagnosis of mast cell tumor (MCT.) Now there is a decision to make, should you have your dog staged to make sure the MCT has not spread, or should you proceed to surgery to remove the tumor and find out the grade? Remember what…

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Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Cabbage in Dog Cancer Diet?

Here is a link to a page on the store where you can get a free download of the Dog Cancer Diet eBook, which is excerpted from my full-length book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.  You are invited to get this information-packed bundle of everything you need to know for your dog’s diet when dealing…

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Diagnosing mast cell tumors

When should you see an oncologist for a mast cell tumor (MCT)? I recommend you get an oncologist involved early. But before you see me, you need to know what a MCT looks like, and how they are diagnosed. Most dogs are not feeling or acting sick when they are diagnosed with MCT. Usually the…

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Attitude Adjustment in Coping With Canine Cancer

One of the most shocking discoveries for some guardians starting their dog cancer journey is there seem to be few options. These guardians go to the vet or oncologist, and many times return from the visit with a very heavy burden that seems to have little relief. And strangely, it happens to those who ask…

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My Experience with CyberKnife RadioSurgery

In my last post, I introduced CyberKnife RadioSurgery, a type of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). This is the radiation unit we have at my specialty hospital, the Animal Specialty Center in Yonkers NY. I want to tell you a little bit more about my own experience with this new technology, but first, a quick recap on…

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CyberKnife RadioSurgery in Pets

If you have been following me on Facebook at Dr. Sue Cancer Vet, you know that last week I was lecturing with what I call “ASC Team CyberKnife.” This team includes radiation oncologist Dr. Sarah Charney, neurologists Drs. Rick Joseph and Jason Berg, and me, the medical oncologist.  We manage all the CyberKnife patients that…

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The chemotherapy appointment, demystified

Ever wonder what happens at your dog chemotherapy appointment? The idea of chemo may conjure up an image of a bunch of people sitting around in chairs hooked up to their IV chemo lines, but how do we do that in dogs? Let’s break a typical chemo appointment down, with Charlie as my example. Charlie…

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Ginseng, a common Chinese herb, For Dog Cancer

Ginsing is a common herb used in eastern medicine, and is now being used for dogs by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. There is good reason for this.  Ginseng has some very definite effects that are real, and may help a dog with cancer.  I’d be thinking mainly of using ginseng for mammary cancers…

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What’s new with oral malignant melanoma?

I was not planning on my next blog to be about oral malignant melanoma (or OMM) in dogs, but I just attended a really great meeting on the topic in New York City. It cut  into my weekend family time, so I am happy that the meeting was so informative. This meeting was VECOG, or…

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DCA Not Advised At This Time for Dog Cancer

DCA, also called dichloroacetic acid or sodium dichloroacetate, is gaining popularity for dog cancer. It is now widely available.  In the search for something better, Guardians are scouring the internet to get an edge on the disease.  And this is understandable, as a dog cancer diagnosis with statistics can be very difficult to accept for…

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Bioflavonoid Quercetin has Anti-Cancer Effects

Quercetin has been around for some time as it is a naturally occurring compound found in the peels of citrus, capers, certain herbs, onions, and grapes**. Quercetin is also found in the Chinese Scholar tree, one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Quercetin has some interesting and fairly potent anti cancer…

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Is It Wrong To Treat Dogs for Cancer?

There has been a lot of press and debate lately about the high costs of veterinary medicine. Being in New York, I’m thinking of several NY Times articles. On the front page on April 5th, there was the article “New Treatments to Save a Pet, but Questions About the Costs.” This article highlighted the advances…

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My Dog is Young…and Has Cancer??

These days cancers in young dogs do not seem to be that rare.  And they are especially difficult since it is such a shock.  Often we have the perception that things like this do not happen, or should not happen. Yet we are faced with this brutal reality that seems impossible to accept and even…

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Prejudice in Chemo Side Effect Treatment for Dogs

Bias (prejudice) is an important issue in medical treatments being withheld.  Some of these treatments may have benefit, and dog cancer is no exception. Managing the side effects of chemotherapy is an important part of cancer care.  Chemotherapy is most commonly delivered at the Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD).  This means the highest doses that the…

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Dog Cancer Pain Control

Pain is a very important part of dog cancer, since it is one of the main life quality negatives for a canine cancer patient. However, not many guardians are aware of all of the tools in a veterinarian’s toolbox to help with pain.  In this post, we will look at both common and uncommon ways…

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Analysis Paralysis With Dog Cancer

When faced with a dog cancer diagnosis, many guardians experience an immediate sense of overwhelm.  Of course, there is profound anger, sadness, numbness, grief, and the whole array of different responses to crises news. After a time, treatment options arise.  And the facts are that modern medicine in many cases does not provide options that…

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The Oncologist’s Perspective on Statistics: Part Three

As you are likely starting to notice, I have so much to say on cancer. I am breaking up big topics into sections to make them more manageable. This is part 3 on statistics. As I mentioned in part one, statistics can be very helpful to give you reasonable expectations about your dog’s cancer, but…

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The Oncologist’s Perspective on Statistics: Part Two

In last week’s post, Statistics Part One, I discussed why statistics can be very helpful to the pet Guardian. And while stats are an important part on oncology, my years in practice highlight their limitations. So before we dive into some common statistical terms (in my next blog), I think it is important to remember…

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Genetic Testing for Cancer Treatments Studied

An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday discussed genetic testing dogs afflicted with cancer .  These tests could help develop individualized treatments for human patients.  The good news is that indirectly, our loved dogs will likely benefit from this work. The reason for the research is that in many cases chemotherapy does little to…

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Osteosarcoma, Cisplatin and Magnesium

Low magnesium may be a threat for dogs receiving chemotherapy. Magnesium is a mineral in the body that is needed for proper functioning of over 300 different enzyme systems.  A study was done on critically ill dogs, and over half were found to have low magnesium. Low magnesium levels increase the risk of toxic reactions…

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The Oncologist’s Perspective on Chemotherapy and Low White Blood Cell Counts: Part 3

Finally, part 3 of my posts on chemotherapy and low white blood cells counts. (You can read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up.) Today I will talk about severely low white blood cell counts and sepsis. Happily, this is NOT common in dogs getting chemotherapy, but you should know about it anyway if…

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The Oncologist’s Perspective on Chemotherapy and Low White Blood Cell Counts: Part 2

This is the second of three posts about low white blood cell counts and chemotherapy. Please be sure to read Part 1, so you are all caught up. Oncologists monitor the white blood cell count closely and often!  It is key to remember that the neutrophil only lives 18 to 24 hours in the blood…

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Right and Wrong In Dog Cancer

When coping with a diagnosis of canine cancer, many guardians worry about decisions they are making.  Often  there does not seem to be a “right” answer. Similarly, when learning about topics in cancer treatment, we may have a tendency to categorize as “good” and “bad”. An important fact of dog cancer, and many medical topics,…

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The Oncologist’s Perspective on Chemotherapy and Low White Blood Cell Counts: Part 1

In recent posts, I discussed gastrointestinal, or GI, side effects resulting from chemotherapy treatment. The goal of chemotherapy is to target and kill your dog’s rapidly dividing cancer cells. Unfortunately some normal cells in the body are also potentially damaged from treatment, because these normal cells also rapidly divide. The most commonly affected cells are…

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