ORLANDO, Fla. – Half of all dogs over the age of ten will develop cancer in their lifetime.
Dogs get cancer at about the same rate as humans, and although the treatment sounds like that of their human counterparts, surgery, chemo and radiation, the cure rate is just about 20 percent.
Now, breakthrough technology is helping dogs beat the odds, and may even impact how cancer is treated in humans.
Anthony Douglas, Lincoln’s owner commented, “Every mischievous thing he can possibly do. He still does.”
9-year-old Lincoln didn’t miss a step after losing his front leg to cancer last year. But it was what doctors found during a routine follow-up exam that worried his parents.
Monisha Seth, Lincoln’s other owner says, “There are 250 milliliters of fluid in his lungs.”
A mass was blocking one of the major veins that drain his heart and it was located in a very difficult place to treat with radiation, until now.
The veterinary oncology team at the University of Florida began treating their furry cancer patients with the Varian Edge – precise radiation technology that’s on par, if not better than, equipment used in top human hospitals.
“It’s going to increase our ability to treat tumors that are near important structures in the body that we’re trying not to harm,” stated Christopher Adin, DMV, Small Animal Clinical Services, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.
The machine can adjust in real-time to the motion happening inside the body.
Doctor Adin says, “It actually has the ability to know when the patient is breathing and to move with it.”
Lincoln was treated on four consecutive Fridays with radiation administered precisely to the tumor without damaging any surrounding tissue.
And now, Lincoln’s tumor is shrinking and may possibly even disappear.
Seth explains, “A human would probably suffer, you know, struggle with it, but he’s just been so, you know, stoic and energetic.”
Doctors hope this new technology will allow them to treat more animals than they ever could have before.
The University of Florida is one of only three veterinary colleges in the country to own the Varian Edge. Monisha says the treatments for Lincoln not including follow-up, cost her about $4,000.