OSTEOSARCOMA – I learned that word on August 22, 2015, when Ruby was diagnosed with it. Ruby was five years old.
I also learned:
* it’s the most common kind of bone cancer in dogs (85%)
* it mostly occurs in large-boned and giant breed dogs (1/3 of cases are over 40 kgs)
* it’s a primary tumour usually on a limb but can also be on the skull, ribs or jaw
* The median age for diagnosis is around 8 years old, but dogs as young as 3 can get it (Ruby was 5)
* it is generally very aggressive (even more aggressive in the young dogs)
* it is highly metastatic (spreads easily)
* it’s very painful, and
* it’s deadly
At the time I didn’t even know that dogs got cancer! Unfortunately, I had to learn fast.
Without treatment, the average survival time is 2 months. Even with standard oncology care survival times are only about 1 year for ~50% of cases but some dogs (~2%) can survive 5-6 years.
The primary treatment is limb amputation to immediately alleviate the pain and hopefully limit the spread. If we can’t manage the pain then it quickly comes to a tough decision about when to let them go.
That’s where chemotherapy comes in. To try to stop the spread. It’s thought micro cancer cells are already circulating in the blood at diagnosis, so spread is thought to be very likely. Around 80% of dogs die from lung metastasis.
The concept of limb amputation is horrific and I didn’t believe the surgeon when he said Ruby would be up running around within days or that she’d wake up from surgery with less pain than she went in. But it was true. The first few days (especially the first night) were traumatic and challenging but after that, we proceeded with loads of rehab and continued Ruby’s cancer nutrition protocol. Rather than losing her within six months as advised, we got her in remission for almost 3 years. A miracle!
You can check out the Ruby Recovery Program on our website to learn in detail the nutrition and natural medicines I gave Ruby, but generally, it included an anti-cancer specific diet and supplements, ongoing physical rehab and fitness, a short cycle of chemo, and of course amputation.