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Treating Tumors and Cancers in Dogs

Cancer Treatments

  • Surgery‑ Surgery can totally remove a cancer or make it smaller so that chemotherapy and radiation are more effective. Risks include anesthesia, bleeding problems, and postoperative pain. Cures are possible with certain cancers and early intervention.
  • Chemotherapy ‑ Chemotherapy uses drugs to try to kill the cancer cells with the least amount of damage to normal cells. Side effects can include nausea, lowered immunity, and bleeding problems. Dogs don’t usually experience major hair loss. Not all cancers are susceptible to chemotherapy.
  • Radiation ‑ Radiation uses specially calibrated X-rays to damage cancer tissues with the least amount of damage possible to normal tissues. Side effects include tissue sloughing, lowered immunity, and damage to normal tissue. Anesthesia is required. This treatment is only available at veterinary referral centers. Not all cancers are susceptible to radiation and location of the cancer may make this impossible.
  • Cryotherapy ‑ Cryotherapy uses probes to freeze cancerous tissues. The goal is to destroy the cancer with the least damage to surrounding normal tissues. This is only available at veterinary referral centers. Not all cancers are susceptible to cryotherapy, and the location of the cancer may make this therapy impossible.
  • Hyperthermy  ‑ Hyperthermy uses heat probes or radiation to destroy cancerous tissues by overheating them. The goal is to destroy the cancer with the least damage to surrounding normal tissues. This is only available at veterinary referral centers. Not all cancers are susceptible to heat damage. The location of the cancer may make this therapy impossible.
  • Diet ‑ Diet has been shown to be helpful in controlling cancer. The goal is a diet with limited simple sugars, moderate amounts of complex sugars such as carbohydrates, highly digestible protein in moderate amounts, and set amounts of certain types of fats. These dietary guidelines tend to “starve” the cancer cells and help the normal cells stay healthy. There is a commercial cancer diet called n/d from Hill’s, or you can make a homemade diet that fits these criteria.
  • Immunotherapy ‑ Immunotherapy use immune reactions to fight off the cancer cells. This method may use a nonspecific immune modifier such as interferon, or vaccines specifically tailored to the cancer of the individual. Much of this work is experimental but shows great promise.
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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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