|Dogs are an important part of our lives and our families. The decision to treat cancer is not always clear-cut but the objective of treatment should always be to extend the
dog's life with good quality time. However, financial and emotional issues are factors that affect decision making as well. Many people do not feel equipped to make these
decisions, which often must be made quickly and without significant understanding of the pros and cons. Added to that, cancer does not always behave as expected so there
is an element of the unknown with any course of treatment. All in all, this is a heart wrenching time in most people's lives.
Several factors influence cancer treatment decisions. Most important are the tumor type, biological behavior and staging. Malignant tumors are characterized by local
invasion and may include distant metastasis. Highly malignant (high grade) tumors often have metastasized by the time the patient's cancer is diagnosed. For high-grade
tumors, aggressive treatment combining surgery and chemotherapy is often warranted even if metastases are not yet detectable radiographically. The goal then is not
typically to cure, but rather to prolong survival by slowing disease progression and to provide palliation. On the other hand, tumors that are locally invasive but less likely to
spread offer better prognoses and are often treated effectively with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
The patient's overall health status plays a major role in therapy choices. Concurrent diseases should be attended to and the patient evaluated for its ability to tolerate cancer
treatment. Life expectancy should be taken into consideration as well; for a slow-growing tumor in an older dog, for example, the treatment drawbacks may outpace the
Treatments for dogs with cancer often follow human therapies which can take the form of conventional (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, etc..) and alternative or
complementary (holistic, herbal, etc..). There is wide debate as to whether you must chose one or the other course of treatment or if these two treatment options can be
combined effectively. I was personally successful with combining the best of both but that may not always be the case as some treatments may interfere with each other and
potentially cause unintended harm. Please consult your veterinarian to discuss your individual situation.
|Click on any of the treatment options below to learn more about