Posted tagged ‘veterinarian’

My Dog has Mast Cell Cancer. Tell Me About Palladia Results and Side Effects

January 31, 2011

I receive this question a lot.  First of all, I am NOT a vet.  I am just a dog owner who has been dealing with mast cell tumors and Palladia treatment for the last year and a half.  So, I will share with you the resources I have gathered so hopefully it will provide you information and save you some time.

My dog has a lump.  Now what?  Go straight to the vet and get it aspirated.  Don’t waste time watching it.  If you are lucky it is only a lipoma and you have peace of mind.  If you receive the bad news that it is a Mast Cell Tumor (MCT) hopefully it is the best case scenario that you have caught it early and your dog lives a long life.

However, if you receive a diagnosis of MCT ask your vet some questions.  What is the grade?  Is it a I, II, or III.  A grade I means they caught it early.  If it is II or III ask your vet what the lab results say about it.  Both of those MAY require additional treatment.   Also, ask what is the Mitotic Index.  You want it to be below 5 out of 10.  That is another measure of aggressiveness and can be correlated to life expectancy.  The higher the index the shorter the life expectancy.  See Dr. Dressler’s article about grades of MCT and Mitotic Index:  http://www.dogcancerblog.com/dog-cancer-decisions-in-the-gray-zone/

Once you have a diagnosis, I recommend going to see a veterinary oncologist.  They have much more experience in dealing with cancer and can tell you about all the treatment options available and recommend which one or combination of treatments they recommend.  Palladia is only one treatment option.  There are different types of chemo, radiation, palladia, and Masivet to name a few.  Talk to your oncologist about all treatment options and which one is best for your dog.  You may decide that no treatment is best for your situation.  Every dog’s situation is different, please discuss it thoroughly with the oncologist.    Here is a link to help you find one:  http://www.acvim.org/websites/acvim/index.php?p=3

Whether or not you decide to get treatment or decide on no treatment at all, I recommend going to visit a holistic vet who can recommend other supplements to support your dog.  Your oncologist might even recommend one.  Here is a link to help you find one:  http://www.holisticvetlist.com/

It is extremely emotional to deal with all of this and try to make the necessary decisions.  Get support for yourself.  Yahoo has a great dog cancer support group at:  http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/CanineCancer/

Since the treatment we chose for Rosie’s situation was Palladia that is what I will discuss.  However, this does NOT mean it is better than other treatments or is right for your dog.  Talk to your oncolgist regarding the treatment for your dog.  It is just the only one I have any experience with.

Palladia affects all dogs differently.  In some it works and in some it doesn’t.   See Dr. Dressler’s articles about Palladia.    http://www.dogcancerblog.com/will-palladia-work/  and  http://www.dogcancerblog.com/first-dog-cancer-drug-fda-approved-but-not-great/.

Some experience side effects the most common being diarrhea and vomiting.  There are others some of which can be severe.   Check out other dog owner’s experience with Palladia who took our survey on this site:   https://rosiesroad.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/305/.  Also, read information from Pfizer about the Palladia at:  http://www.palladia-pi.com/Palladia_PI.pdf.    Sometimes the oncologist may adjust the dosage or temporarily stop the Palladia for a short period of time and then restart it to help relieve the side effects.  Also, they will likely provide supplemental meds to support the Palladia and help avoid side effects.  Still unsure about Palladia, ask your oncologist about a test that can be done to see if your dog has a “mutation” that Palladia successfully treats supposedly “80% of the time.”  That was according to my oncologist.  I don’t have much information on it but it would be worth discussing with your oncologist if you are considering Palladia as a treatment option.

Check out the links on the right side of this blog as there is a lot of information there.  Also read the comments from other dog owners.  My Rosie has been successful on Palladia but not all dogs experience the same success.

Be prepared.  Treating a dog with cancer no matter which treatment option you choose is expensive.  For no interest credit to help pay for it, check out care credit:  http://www.carecredit.com/index.html.   Also, check out the links on the right side of this blog under financial resources if you need other financial assistance.  Several links are listed.

Good luck to you as you research the best treatment options for your furchild.  I hope this information has helped in your research.   My heart goes out to you and I pray that your beloved furchild lives for many more years and brings much happiness to you and your family.

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Uncurling the Side Effects of Palladia

January 12, 2011

Rosie’s 1-1/2 week vacation from Palladia ends tonight.  We took her for her 6-week check up a week ago Monday.  Before we left to go to the clinic Rosie was curled up nice and comfy on the sofa and then jumped off.  The problem was that, even though she was standing, her back was still curled in a “C” like she was on the sofa.  It took her a couple of minutes to “uncurl” herself and straighten out.  It scared me to death.  I think she was scared too.  She didn’t know what was happening.    I told the oncologist about it and she said let’s give Rosie a one week break from the Palladia and see if this gets better.

The good news from the visit to the oncologist was that she still showed no signs of cancer!  Yeah!  The bad news is that she had some protein in her urine.  So that was another reason to take a break from the Palladia.

During this week off of Palladia, Rosie’s hind end weakness definitely improved and she had no problems “uncurling” like last week. 

However, Rosie starts the Palladia tonight and I am nervous.  I am hopeful the side effects have subsided.  But we just have to keep a close eye on her.  I talked to the oncologist about what if we stop the Palladia altogether but 2 oncologists were very concerned that her cancer would return quickly since it was so aggressive.  That is the reason I agreed to have Rosie go back on it.

When I expressed my concerns about the side effects of long-term Palladia, the oncologist did tell me about another option I had not heard much about and that was metronomic chemotherapy.  It is a combination of 3 drugs, an antibiotic such as doxycycline, an NSAID such as piroxicam (or other similar drug) and a chemo drug called cyclophosphamide.  It is a lower dose chemotherapy that is not meant to cure cancer but to try to keep it from spreading or keep it from returning (as would be in Rosie’s case).   Dr. Dressler has information about it on his blog at:  http://www.dogcancerblog.com/metronomic-chemotherapy/  and at http://www.dogcancerblog.com/a-new-look-chemotherapy/.

We decided to continue on the Palladia since it has kept the cancer away.  However, if the side effects get worse, we will then need to consider other options.

Lastly, our loss is Arizona’s gain.  Rosie’s oncologist for the last 18 months is leaving the clinic.  She is going to practice in Arizona.  Good luck to you Dr. Endicott.  We wish you well.   I hope you don’t have a need for one, but in case you need a good veterinary oncologist in Arizona, go see Dr. Melissa Endicott.  She is excellent.

Good luck to everyone whose furbaby is fighting this disease, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

After One Year Rosie’s Palladia is Stopped (For Now)

September 1, 2010

After receiving Palladia for just over a year, Rosie is going to take a 2-week vacation from it.   This was decided with her oncologist after her latest 6-week check-up.  For the last couple of months Rosie has experienced a vomiting episode every couple of weeks and occasional loose stools.  During the first 10 months on Palladia she never experienced vomiting.

For the first time since she started Palladia Rosie’s lab test came back with an abnormality.  Her albumin (a blood protein) had decreased significantly.  So, the oncologist ordered a urinalysis which showed some protein but not enough to explain the entire protein loss.

The liver tests were normal.   The oncologist thinks that Rosie may be losing protein in her GI tract which may be related to the Palladia.   If so, if the Palladia is not stopped in time, it could cause permanent damage.  Therefore, she wants to take a break from the Palladia and check her again in 2 weeks.

A risk is that stopping the Palladia might allow the mast cell tumor with the 20 out of 10 mitotic index to come back.  That would be very bad.  Rosie has already beaten the odds of her diagnosis.  Initially she was only given 2 or 3 months to live after her diagnosis.  Now she has been doing great for a year.

All of this is hard to believe because if you look at Rosie she looks great!  You would not know she was dealing with something this serious.  Rosie has not acted sick.  She is happy, playful, and will eat as much food as you will give her.  She might get a little vomiting every few weeks but otherwise seemed fine.

So, I hope her blood proteins bounce back.  I would feel horrible if we did not stop the Palladia in time and caused permanent damage.  

We hope and pray that Rosie’s blood proteins will improve and that the cancer stays away.  I’ll post an update in a couple of weeks.

11 Months on Palladia and Still Going

July 31, 2010

Hi everyone.  I thought I would give you an update on Rosie.   For the most part Rosie has been doing great. 

After the July 4th vomiting episode she had a great couple of weeks and then some vomiting after that.  However, it was not nearly as bad as on July 4th.  We stopped the Palladia for a few days and took her to the oncologist.  She was almost due for her regular 6-week check up so we just moved up her appointment a few days.

The oncologist was very happy with how Rosie was doing.  All her bloodwork, liver enzymes, and ultrasound came back normal.  The oncologist said she went over Rosie extremely thoroughly to try to find any lumps and saw none.  She was extremely pleased with the results.  So were we!  The oncologist did not want to adjust the dosage of Palladia for the couple of episodes of vomiting.  She wanted to continue on the current course and see how Rosie does.  Rosie has had 3 Palladia doses since that trip to the oncologist and there have been no problems so far.

In summary, after 11 months Rosie is still cancer free and doing great on Palladia with just a couple of bouts of vomiting, but so far not enough to change the dosage or take her off the Palladia.

That is the latest.  I’ll update you after the next 6 week visit to the oncologist which will be just after Rosie’s 1-year anniversary on Palladia

One Year Since MCT Diagnosis

June 16, 2010

It has now been one year since Rosie’s initial diagnosis of Mast Cell Tumor, grade II, and Rosie is doing great.  Last year it started as a small lump on her lower abdomen.  The owner of our doggie daycare pointed it out to us and recommended we take her to the vet.   I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

The vet did surgery to remove the lump and was confident he got all of it and we didn’t need to do anything other than keep an eye out for any more lumps. 

Two months later in August 2009, it came back with a vengeance.  Another lump on her surgery scar.  Test results came back as Grade II MCT with a Mitotic Index of 20.  That was bad news.  The mitotic index can be an indicator of lifespan.  The higher the number the shorter the life span.  We took her to an oncologist who said if we did nothing Rosie may only have 2 months to live.

That was 10 months ago and Rosie is alive and well and doing great.  In August 2009, about 1 month after our oncologist received the initial batch of new drug, Palladia, we started Rosie on it.  3 times per week, two 50 mg tablets per day.  The oncologist warned me they did not know a lot about this new drug, but we could try it.  I’m glad we did.  For 10 months it has worked for Rosie. 

Yesterday Rosie went for her regular 6 week check up.  Her ultrasound was normal.  Everything was clear.  All her bloodwork and tests were normal.  Our oncologist was thrilled about how well Rosie was doing.   She said usually a dog with a mitotic index of 20 in August 2009 would not be here today.

Our oncologist recommended that we continue the Palladia treatment.  She believes the Palladia is suppressing the “mutation” (I assume of cells turning into cancer) and that if we stopped the Palladia the cancer would return.

So we continue on and Rosie’s life goes on.  Thanks to our vet, oncologist, doggie daycare owner, and Palladia, Rosie is still with us.  She brings a lot of joy and love to our lives.  We are so grateful that she is still with us.  

Good luck to everyone whose furbaby is fighting this disease.  Our prayers are with you.  Remember, there are success stories like Rosie’s.  There is hope.

Celebration Time!

May 6, 2010

Happy 10th Birthday to Rosie!  She turned 10 on Tuesday this week.  To celebrate, she went to the veterinary oncologist for her 36-week check-up and got a clean bill of health.  Everything was normal including the liver enzymes!  That is an improvement…..And She is STILL CANCER FREE!!!!!!!   The oncology staff even sang “Happy Birthday” to Rosie.  Of course, she loved that.

It has been a busy week but Rosie did get some salmon with her regular dinner.  She loves salmon.  Hopefully, we can do something more for her this weekend.

We have certainly been blessed with Rosie and are fortunate to still have her with us.   She has brought a lot of joy to our lives. 

To those going through difficult times, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  Keep up the good fight.  There are some success stories with happy endings.  Never give up hope.  Good luck to you all.

6 Month Check Up – Steady as She Goes

February 9, 2010

Rosie went to see her oncologist yesterday for her 24-week or 6-month checkup for MCT and Palladia.  We received good news.  Her bloodwork was all normal and she received her next 6-week dose of Palladia. 

These 6-week Palladia check ups will continue for the rest of her life.  Every 12 weeks they do an ultrasound to see if they can see anything on her internal organs.  That will be done next time.

Previously, her liver enzymes were slightly elevated.  So we started Rosie on SAM-e and this time the liver enzymes were normal.  Yeah! Since SAM-e is the only thing we changed, I assume that had something to do with her normal liver enzymes at this check up.

We are very blessed to still have Rosie with us.  I have been keenly aware of this as I have corresponded with others over the last few months that have lost their furkids.  Recently, one died suddenly while he was taking Palladia.  His owner said the cause of death was ruled as “unknown causes” but because he was taking this new drug at the time, they have to consider Palladia as possibly linked to the death.   The owner said that oncologists, holistic vet, and regular vet were all shocked by the death, especially since his “super chemistry” bloodwork all came back normal, but he had a  high fever.  

Hearing these stories makes one wonder will Palladia save a life, as it did in Rosie’s case, or will it take a life?   No one knows in advance how their dog will react to it or any chemotherapy.   My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those whose furkid is currently fighting this cancer battle  and to those who have lost the battle.   

So what is someone new to this battle supposed to do?  Which treatments are right for their furkids.  Dr. Dressler has written several good articles on his cancer blog about this.   I thought this post was very good.  It talks about what kind of person you are and how that helps determine which treatment is right for your baby.  http://www.dogcancerblog.com/the-most-important-question-in-dog-cancer-care/.  He also mentions an MDR-1 Mutation test to help predict certain chemo drug sensitivities your dog might have.  

Good luck to everyone whose furkid is fighting this battle.  Stay hopeful.  Fight the good fight.