Whichever treatment for cancer in dogs you may opt for, the major aim of all cancer treatments boils down to eliminating all cancerous cells. The best cure for cancer in dogs is one that kills cancer cells, but does not kill normal cells while ensuring that there are minimal or at least manageable side effects. This is not possible in all cases as practically all therapies have drawbacks in one sphere or the other.
The most common therapies for cancer treatment include:
- Surgery, a partial or total excision of a tumor, has a limited success ratio in cases where cancer has spread to various organs in the body.
- Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, has serious toxic side effects.
- Radiation therapy, the use of high intensity radiation, cannot guarantee that only cancer cells will be targeted.
There has been a significant development in the field of discovering newer therapies for treating cancer. Drugs and techniques that target only cancerous cells and spare the normal cells are in different stages of development and are being termed as ‘magic bullets’. Some of these therapies include the following:
This is a process of introduction of foreign DNA into a cancerous cell. After the foreign gene is incorporated and expressed by cancerous cells, it attempts to kill cancerous cells, attract substances from the immune system to fight cancer cells, suppress formation of tumors and make normal cells resistant to drugs that are used to kill cancer cells.
These drugs work on the theory that cancer cells are dependent on a process called angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is process of formation of blood vessels which facilitates division of cancerous cells. It also allows the tumors to attain a solid structure. For this purpose, many cancerous cells excrete molecules to activate angiogenesis. Natural and synthetic inhibitors that restrict formation of blood vessels are in the process of preclinical studies and have been found to be extremely effective.
Not all types of cancers give prior noticeable indications the way the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs surface as diarrhea, vomiting, bloated stomach and lethargy. Pet cancer, including feline cancer, is a fatal disease and even a seemingly successful treatment can have a debilitating effect upon the quality of life of the pet during and after treatment. A lot of ground has been covered since the time surgery was the only option for cancer treatment. New therapies like radiation and chemotherapy have been introduced.
There are also some more complicated therapies in the process of development, but it appears that it will be quite some time before an ideal cure for cancer is found. However, there is still a lot of possibility in developing existing modes of treatment to at least limit side effects and provide a non-recurring cure for one of the most dreaded diseases.