Without a doubt, Hemangiosarcoma is one of the most difficult cancers to treat in dogs. A malignant cancer of the blood vessels, hemangiosarcoma is aggressive and silent, and can cause massive internal bleeding as it progresses. All too often, dogs diagnosed with this form of cancer receive a very poor prognosis from their vets — if the cancer is even caught in time.
Fortunately though, there is a lot of research being done into this type of cancer, and a new treatment being used at Oregon State University is showing great promise, and it may eventually help dogs, and humans alike.
Orion is a 9 year old Golden Retriever who is being treated at Oregon State University after being diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. After successfully removing a tumor from his heart, some of the cancer cells found in the tumor were grown in a lab and then were tested to find out which class of cancer-fighting drugs they would be most sensitive to. In Orion’s case, his tumor cells tested extremely sensitive to a cancer inhibitor called a TKI. Specifically one called “dasatinib,” which had never before been used on a dog.
This discovery led Orion’s family and cancer team to obtain dastinib to try it with him and to see if using that drug, along with the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, would help him fight this disease. So far, it’s working.
The idea of analyzing individual cancer cells and customizing cancer treatments accordingly is a novel approach to treating cancer and may ultimately be the future of cancer treatments for animals and humans.