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

Veterinary Oncologist Perspective

Treating Dogs with Cancer As If They’re My Own

Can I treat a dog in my care as if he were my own?

Read Article

Should My Regular Veterinarian Give My Dog Chemotherapy?

Here’s a touchy subject for us to look at: why can’t my regular veterinarian give my dog chemotherapy? Do I really need to see a specialist? I am often asked these questions by clients, and my answer is always the same:  no. That might sound harsh, but let’s look at this a little closer. If…

Read Article
Dog Cancer Mistake - Paying for Tests You Don't Need

Common Dog Cancer Mistake: Doing Too Many Diagnostic Tests Before Seeing the Oncologist

When you first hear your dog has cancer, you may panic and feel that everything must be done, and now. It’s true, cancer is an urgent situation, and it’s a great idea to find out as much information about your dog’s cancer as is possible. But how many diagnostic tests should you have your vet…

Read Article

Common Cancer Mistake: Starting Your Dog with Lymphoma on Prednisone Too Soon

It happens all the time, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done it. But if you can, avoid the use of steroids (such as prednisone) before chemotherapy, or before the diagnosis of lymphoma is confirmed. Now, I’m not bashing prednisone across the board. Steroids are used for many things in veterinary medicine. For example,…

Read Article

Primary Lung Tumors, part 2

Unlike people where lung cancer is one of the top five cancers and the leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide, primary lung cancer is very rare in dogs. Dogs are often diagnosed with lung cancer as in incidental finding during a routine geriatric screen. Lung Cancer Symptoms in Dogs Often dogs have NO clinical signs,…

Read Article

Uncommon Tumors: Primary Lung Tumors, Part 1

As a boarded oncologist, I see not only the common cancers in dogs like lymphoma, mast cell tumors, osteosarcomas, hemangiosarcomas, and mammary cancers. But I also see the uncommon ones. Recently I have been seeing more of the uncommon tumors, and what’s even strange to me, I am seeing more that one within a few…

Read Article

What’s my dog’s prognosis?

Once you have been told the horrible news that your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, so many thoughts start racing around your head. One of the common questions I get is, “How long will my dog live, Doc?” Despite all my training and experience as an oncologist, this is so hard to answer. During…

Read Article

Chemotherapy for Osteosarcoma

In my last two posts about osteosarcoma (OSA), we discussed treatments that address the tumor affecting the bone. We discussed amputation, Stereotactic RadioSurgery (SRS) like Cyberknife, palliative radiation, and limb-spare surgery. While these treatments are important for the malignant tumor destroying the bone, metastasis (cancer spread) is inevitable.  So even if the primary tumor is…

Read Article

DogCancer.TV: Should You See an Oncologist for Your Dog’s Cancer

Dr. Ettinger and Dr. Dressler discuss the decision as to when and why a veterinary oncologist should be seen and how to find a veterinary oncologist.

Read Article

Osteosarcoma: when amputation is not an option, part 2

In my last post, I went through some “alternatives-to-amputation,” including palliative radiation and limb-spare surgery. Now we will review stereotactic radiosurgery. Stereotactic RadioSurgery: radiation instead of surgery RadioSurgery is used INSTEAD of surgery, when traditional surgery with a scalpel blade is impossible or would cause unacceptable side effects to the patient (for example, in brain…

Read Article

Osteosarcoma, part one

Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common bone cancer in dogs, accounting for about 85% of bone cancer cases. The bottom line on OSA is that metastasis is a problem: 90% of patients will die from the metastasis within the 1st year when amputation is the only treatment. Those are grim statistics, but it is the…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

Beyond Mast Cell Tumor Grade: Other Prognostic Factors

In my last blog on mast cell tumor (MCT) grade, I discussed that grade is one of the most important prognostic factors, or predictors, for dogs with MCT. And I also discussed the challenges of using the grade as a predictor: a good percentage of grade 2 MCT behave more aggressively than the rest of…

Read Article

The Oncologist’s thoughts on mast cell tumors

If ever there was a tumor that fits the saying: “one size does NOT fit all”, it is mast cell tumors (MCT). These tumors are common, particularly skin tumors, in dogs. You may know a dog that had a mast cell tumor removed with surgery and went on to live many happy years to never…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

What’s new with oral malignant melanoma? Part Two

If you read part one, you remember I was all excited after a recent weekend meeting in New York City on the topic or oral malignant melanoma. As discussed in my chapter in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, oral melanoma is the most common tumor in the mouth of dogs, accounting for 30-40%. It is…

Read Article

What is safe? Thoughts of an oncologist and mom

After a pet Guardian finds out their dog has cancer, I am often asked, “What caused my dog’s cancer?  Was it the water, the food, the food bowls, the shampoo, the cleaners I used around the house, the herbicides or pesticides used on my lawn?” While there is so little evidence directly linking chemicals and…

Read Article

Staying on the cutting edge of veterinary oncology

I’ll be honest; this blog is a little bit hard for me to write. I am not my typical focused self. I am preparing to leave for Paris for a week with my husband. While I would prefer the trip to be entirely vacation, half the trip will be devoted to veterinary oncology. (I know…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

The Oncologist’s Perspective on Statistics: Part One

I know what you are thinking. Statistics … ick, boring. I agree. I was never a fan of learning about stats. In fact, statistics was one of my least favorite classes in undergrad. But when you are dealing with the overwhelming diagnosis of cancer, there are a ton of statistics to learn. How long will…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

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…

Read Article

Incidentalomas: when you find a cancer you were not looking for

Recently, there was an article that caught my attention in the New York Times. In A Tumor is No Clearer in Hindsight, Denise Grady wrote about whether Steve Jobs had made the right decision to wait 9 months to go to surgery after finding out he had a type of pancreatic cancer. The article goes…

Read Article