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New Cancer Treatment Helps Stricken Dogs Live Longer

Reported by: Shauna Lake
Last Update: 4/18 3:05 pm

Melanoma isn’t just an affliction that can happen to human beings. Dogs are also susceptible to the cancer, but a new treatment is proving to help stricken animals live longer.

Traditionally, dogs that contracted cancer would die in just a few months. But a new treatment might extend canines’ lives by a matter of years.

Scientists say the new treatment works by triggering the body’s own immune system to attack the cancer. And because the body is fighting with its own chemicals, no medicines are involved in the procedure — meaning that dogs are able to tolerate it better.

The dogs receive a series of four injections, that are administered about two weeks apart. The animals then require booster shots every six months, for the rest of their lives.

The treatment is new, but experts say it is already showing a great deal of promise. Some dogs are surviving for three additional years, or longer.

“It could be even more. We don’t know because [the dogs] are still in remission,” said Anthea Schick, a board-certified veterinarian dermatologist. “It is very effective, which is very exciting.”
Experts say melanoma in canines can be difficult to detect, which is why owners should take them to the vet at least once a year for an examination.

The drawbacks to the new treatment is that it can only be administered by a board-certified animal oncologist, or veterinarian dermatologist — specialists who can be difficult to find.

Also, the treatment is expensive — costing between $2,000 and $3,000, or sometimes higher.

Interestingly, researchers believe the cancer treatment might also have potential for human beings. Studies to see whether it might help fight cancer in people are underway.

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