Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor seen in dogs. It occurs in middle age to older dogs and is usually large breed dogs. It can develop in any bone in any dog but tends to grow in the limbs of large dogs in 75% of the cases. As the tumour grows, the osteosarcoma weakens the bone The tumor grows from the inside out with the bone being replaced by the cancerous tissue. This tumor becomes progressively more painful, and the dog develops an intermittent lameness that quickly progresses to constant.
Diagnosis of bone tumors is by typical radiographic ( Xray) diagnosis. Most veterinarians who suspect osteosarcoma on xrays will then do a bone biopsy. This involves taking a piece of the bone and sending it for evaluation by a pathologist. Amputation followed by chemo and or radiation therapy are the standard conventional treatments.
Alternatively, a limb sparing surgical technique may be used or palliative radiation. Neither of the techniques affect the course of the disease but they make the pet more comfortable, Unfortunately osteosarcoma is a fast growing tumor and by the time the tumor is diagnosed in the bone it has usually spread to the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy on these dogs involves using injectable drugs usually on 3 week schedule. With aggressive chemotherapy, the median survival time increases from 5 to 6 months to 1 year post diagnosis.
From a holistic standpoint, Chinese herbs and acupuncture can be used for pain control and to slow the growth of the tumor. Pet Wellbeing’s ES Clear can be used for this. A special homemade diet is frequently prescribed. Supplements and vitamins are added to this to support the bodies attempt to fight off the cancer. Interestingly enough, animals do not lose their hair with chemotherapy. Only dogs with continually growing hair ( like poodles) will lose their hair with chemotherapy.