Treating Canine Carcinoma With Chemotherapy

Canine carcinoma (cancer) can be treated but not cured with chemotherapy. It fights cancer cells in order to prevent the spread of the cancer to other healthy parts of the body. In the advanced stages of cancer, chemotherapy may bring pain relief and improve the dog's quality of life for the remaining time he has.

Side Effects Vary

Nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lowered immunity toward infections are several possible side effects to chemotherapy. The degree of intensity of these side effects is determined by the amount in the dose of the chemotherapy given. The higher the dose the more pronounced the side effect.

The age of the dog and any other health issues must be considered in deciding whether or not chemotherapy is a viable option. The extent of the spread of the cancer should also be considered. Radiation and chemotherapy can be used to shrink the size of a tumor for surgical removal. In more advanced stages of cancer, chemotherapy cannot cure the cancer but bring pain relief and a better quality of life. Chemotherapy may induce a remission of the cancer for a year or more. Chemotherapy can be resumed whenever the cancer returns to induce another remission.

Toxic Materials

Dog chemotherapy involves toxic materials that kill cancer cells being administered at home in pill form or by being injected into the dog at the veterinarian's office. Unfortunately, either method also damages some healthy cells in the process. Since treatment has become more advanced and targeted, success rates have improved. Due to their size dogs require lower doses of chemotherapy and so side effects (lethargy, nausea, infections and hair loss) are not as pronounced as with humans. Antibiotics and anti-nausea medications can be prescribed by the veterinarian to reduce these side effects.

When chemotherapy is administered intravenously, the dog may require some hospital stay, especially if any infections appear. High quality food and plenty of fresh water is important for recovery along with plenty of rest. Frequent monitoring is necessary since survival rates vary. Chemotherapy is recommended for any fast growing cancers such as lymphomas or dog skin cancer.

Chemotherapy Is Not A Cure

Unfortunately, chemotherapy cannot offer a cure for cancer only temporary relief from the pain and improvement in the quality of life, but not an extension of the life span. Sometimes chemotherapy will induce a remission in the cancer; however, that requires more frequent monitoring in order to determine when the remission ends and chemotherapy needs to resume. Chemotherapy is used when the cancer is in its advantage stages and capable of spreading to other healthy areas of the body.