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A primer on osteosarcoma in dogs

by veterinary_clinic_traverse_city 4. May 2016 02:22

Osteosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer that occurs in dogs.  Although primarily associated with giant breeds, and occurring most commonly in dogs between 7 and 10 years old, osteosarcoma can strike any sized dog and at any time during their lives. 

Statistics show that giant breed dogs can be as much as 200 times higher at risk than small breed dogs.  Among this high risk group are breeds such as Scottish Deerhounds, Rottweilers, Great Pyrenees, Greyhounds and Great Danes. 

“A primary tumor that develops on a dog’s skeletal system is aggressive and metastasizes at a rapid rate, so it is not uncommon to find tumors have spread to other parts of a dog during an initial diagnosis,” says Traverse City veterinarian Dr. Eric Peck.  

Because the primary tumor is so aggressive, the standard protocol in treating osteosarcoma involves surgery to remove the primary tumor, combined with chemotherapy to kill the remaining cells at the site.  Chemotherapy is an essential component of treatment due to the fact that many dogs experience the microscopic spread of the cancer cells before treatment ever takes place.  Chemo has been shown to be very effective in stopping the spread when detection takes place early on. 

For dogs, where the tumor has spread and destroyed a significant amount of the bone, the dog’s limb may need to be amputated.    

Unfortunately, because of the overall nature of the disease, only about half of all dogs treated live beyond one year after being diagnosed.  That survival rate falls to about 30 percent after two years.  That’s why early detection and aggressive treatment are key to extending the life and the quality of life of your dog. 

Located in Williamsburg and treating cases of osteosarcoma for dog owners in Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Acme, Kalkaska and nearby communities, Northern Michigan Veterinary Hospital is a fully equipped regional facility serving the routine and emergency needs of pet owners since 2009.

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