Dogs who are diagnosed with cancer have the very limited options to be treated and cured. Fortunately, many veterinarians are considering the option of palliative radiation therapy to maximize the amount of time the dog has left in comfort.
Tumors may cause great pain in a dog's relatively small body as they may also physically block a body part from functioning. In some cases, tumors may bleed and drastically reduce a dog's quality of life.
Fortunately, palliative radiation therapy (PRT) can help eliminate and reduce the mentioned symptoms. Radiation therapy may be used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy for the permanent death or control of a tumor.
The goal of PRT is not to eliminate the tumor but the reduce the adverse effects the tumor will have on a dog's body. While the tumor may not be completely destroyed, shrinking the tumor may improve the quality of life of the animal by reducing bleeding, pressure or pain.
Radiation affects both normal and cancer cells but it is designed to produce maximum effect on the tumor and minimize the effects on normal tissue, according to Pet Education. Unfortunately, not enough data has been found to properly identify just how well PRT can work as only a few owners are able to commit to the time and expense of the treatment.
Fortunately, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association sought to conclude the effectiveness of PRT. The researchers observed the medical records of dogs that received the treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital from July 2007 to January 2011.
With 103 dogs taking part in the study, the overall response rate of PRT was at 75 percent. The response rate, however, varied among the different tumor types that range from 50 percent to 100 percent.
The study revealed that for dogs that have an anal sac adenocarcinoma type of tumor, the overall response rate is at 100 percent. For transitional cell carcinoma, however, the response rate is at a mere 16 percent.
Oral tumors and tumors within the nasal cavity typical respond positively to radiation therapy. Brain tumors, skin tumors, lymphoma and even mast cell tumors have also responded well to the mentioned treatment especially when used together with chemotherapy.
PRT is typically given in large fractions once a week for three weeks. The researchers also concluded that a normal dog would survive for almost nine months to a year and a half after the treatment, according to Pet MD.
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