1. Dog Fancy Questions Feb 2014

    Starting in January 2014, I write a monthly column in Dog Fancy magazine about cancer. Each month I answer client’s questions or discuss a topic relating to the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer in dogs. Here are some questions from Dog Fancy readers that I was unable to answer in my column.

    Q: After reading your article in March 2014 regarding cancer types and breeds, I have this question.  One of my four legged buddies is a Bernese Mountain Dog Mix (Bernese Mountain Dog/Collie-English Cocker cross[very handsome boy] ) and I have read that the Bernese breed is at high risk for lymphoma, if you have a mix breed dog, does this decrease the chances of the dog getting cancer?

    A: Bernese Mountain Dogs, Collies and English Cocker- your pet must be beautiful. The answer to your question as to whether mix breed dogs have a lower risk of certain cancers is yes, they do–sometimes. If you have two breeds that have a high predilection for developing any cancer, crossing these two breeds may or may not decrease the risk of cancer in the offspring. The reason for this is that veterinarians and geneticists are still unsure as to which specific genes predispose the breeds to the various types of cancer. In a very large study (see evaluating over 27,000 dogs, researchers at University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found no difference in the predisposition of cancer in purebred dogs when compared to mixed-breed dogs. However, there are specific cancers where mixed-bred dogs do have a lower predisposition than do certain pure breeds.


    The most important consideration when deciding which breed of dog to get or whether to get a purebred or mixed breed is personal preference. Having a dog you love is THE most important factor.

    Q:  I read your article in Dog Fancy concerning common cancers in dogs.  I was interested in the story concerning Maddy, the Border Collie diagnosed with lymphoma and that she is still in remission after 4 years.  I was wondering what type of chemotherapy she received.  My poodle was diagnosed last year but came out of remission after only 9 months.  He underwent the CHOP protocol the first time and is currently undergoing the same treatment. I have been told he may have survive another 4 -5 months on this current treatment. What type of treatment do you recommend?  Thank you.

    A: Maddy was a spectacular dog and one of my favorites patients. She was treated with both chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. While not widely available, bone marrow transplants can improve the prognosis for dogs with lymphoma. The other therapies that we are currently using at The Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, CT are chemotherapy alone and chemotherapy in conjunction with radiation therapy. The three major protocols we use are CHOP (cycylophosphamide, Hydroxydaunorubicin (doxorubicin), Oncovin (vincristine), Prednisone), MOPP (mustargen, Oncovin (vincristine), Procarbazine and Prednisone) and Lomustine (CeeNU, CCNU). These three protocols form the basis for many of our lymphoma treatments. There are certainly variations of these with the CHOP-MA protocol, one that I helped develop (see, giving dogs with B cell lymphoma a prolonged survival time, 622 days, compared with most other variants.

    The protocol that is best for your particular dog depends upon a variety of factors and your local veterinarian or veterinary oncologist would be the best person to advise you.

  2. News: Dr. Farrelly named associate editor for Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound

    At the 2013 ACVR meeting in October in Savannah, Georgia, our radiation oncologist/medical oncologist Dr. John Farrelly was named as an associate editor for the journal, Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound.  This journal serves as one of the most influential sources of information for primary research on the use of radiation therapy for treating cancer as well as diagnostic imaging in all animals.  This volunteer position is a new one, which was created to ensure that the journal continues to focus on publishing the most relevant and important studies on the treatment of pets with radiation.

    When asked about this position, Dr. Farrelly commented, “As the associate editor for Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound my hope is that I will be able to help select studies for the journal that will provide the highest level of knowledge on how we should diagnose and treat cancer in animals.”

    “Working at the Veterinary Cancer Center not only allows me to provide cutting edge care for patients with cancer.  It also allows me to play a role in research.  It is crucial that we continue to learn the safest and best ways to treat our patients with cancer and as associate editor I hope that it will be one more way that I can contribute to that process”

  3. Why Veterinarian’s Refer

    I just finished reading a really good article, the first of its kind in the veterinary literature. The article talked about why veterinarians in Ontario Canada referred dogs with either osteosarcoma or lymphoma to a veterinary oncologist. The main findings were that there were multiple factors associated with their decisions. One of the most significant factors was the veterinarian’s confidence in the referral center. We at The Veterinary Cancer Center in Norwalk, CT certainly believe this and we try everyday to ensure that our referring veterinarians have confidence in us. Two of the other factors that influenced whether a referral was made were the general health status of the dog and whether the client had a strong bond to their dog. Assessment the health status is certainly important and is generally a very objective measure. On the other hand, the measure of a client’s bond to their dog is much more subjective and sometimes quite difficult to measure. Yet despite this, a veterinarian’s assessment of the strength of this bond was a very influential factor in determining whether they referred or not.

    This article just talks about dogs and only two forms of cancer, it would be very interesting to see if these trends are the same for cats and for all other cancers.

    The Veterinary Cancer Center has built its reputation on earning the communities trust and confidence every day. With this article in print, we now have proof of how important this truly is.