Treating Cancer in our Pets
This is Gunther, a 6 year old Great Dane. He also happens to have cancer. We are featuring Gunther this month, not only because he is cute, but also because he is like many other dogs out there, living with cancer and doing well even when on cancer treatment.
Gunther presented to his family vet with a bloody nose about a month ago in March. His owner thought he had a foxtail in his nose as he often goes to parks where pesky foxtails grow. The initial exam showed no foxtail and he was referred to our hospital for a more intensive work-up.
Because nasal tumors were on our list of possible causes for his bloody nose, we performed a nasal CT. CT scans (called “CAT” scans) are specialized X-rays that allow us to look at a structure in 3 dimensions. The nose in dogs is pretty deep with many intricate structures and sinuses that are not visible on normal X-rays or visual exam so CT scanning is needed to get a complete look at the inside of the nose.
We found a small mass inside of Gunther’s nose on the right side; we were able to biopsy the affected site as the CT scan showed us exactly where to biopsy. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma, a tumor of the bony tissue of the nose. We found a small mass inside of Gunther’s nose on the right side; we were able to biopsy the affected site as the CT scan showed us exactly where to biopsy. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma, a tumor of the bony tissue of the nose.
Gunther’s owners decided to treat him – he is still young at heart with lots of energy. The treatment for most nasal tumors is radiation therapy- a high energy beam directed at the tumor site to kill the rapidly dividing tumor cells. We used our CT scan to plan the radiation therapy as well, directing the radiation toward the tumor and away from other delicate structures like his eyes and brain.
Gunther is currently finishing radiation therapy and is doing great! He still loves to go to the park after his treatments but his mom make sure he stays away from the foxtails!
With treatment, his prognosis is good. We expect his quality of life to be good with treatment with no loss of function and no pain. Many dogs with this type of nasal tumor can live more than a year, some reaching 18 months or more with a normal quality of life.
Gunther is a typical canine cancer patient- a middle aged to older dog living with cancer and having a good quality of life during and after treatment. Besides having a bald patch at the radiation site, you would not be able to tell that this brave dog is going through cancer treatment. Way to go Gunther!