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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1376
Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in small animal and emergency veterinary medicine
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My 13-1/2 yr. old male beagle was diagnosed with cancer tumors

Customer Question

My 13-1/2 yr. old male beagle was diagnosed with cancer tumors in his prostate in April. His prognosis was 2-3 months. Surgery was not an option. He has had 3 chemo treatments and the tumor grew in size from 3.7 to 5.8.
Six days after the third chemo treatment on 6/12/09, he started to urinate blood and exhibited pain when trying to defficate. When hospitalized they found his white cells had dropped critically low. He was treated with a cell stimulator for 3 days and his level returned to normal and the blood was gone in his urine. Since the chemo had no affect on the tumor, I was thinking of radiation. What are your thoughts.

Desperate to save his life, I eagerly wait your reply.

Thank you very much.

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 years ago.

I am so sorry that you and your dear pet are going through this difficult situation. </p><p> </p><p>The blood in the urine as well as the low white blood cell count can be side effects of certain chemotherapy agents that are used. I am not sure what drugs have been used in this dog, but I suspect that may be the cause of these particular symptoms.

Unfortunately, prostatic cancer in dogs is a condition that has a poor prognosis. Metastasis (spread) of the cancer to other internal organs has often occurred by the time the condition is diagnosed. Radiation therapy is most commonly used when the tumor is localized (when there is no spread) and the radiation therapy can be focused on one particular spot. This allows the radiation therapy to be most effective while avoiding damage to surrounding tissues. If there is no evidence of spread of the tumor, then radiation could certainly be used in this situation. However, the goal of radiation therapy in generally to control symptoms and shrink or slow growth of the tumor, rather than "curing" the cancer.

I wish I could tell you that radiation therapy will make your dog all better, but unfortunately that just isn't very likely. ITo give you some statistics, one study involving 10 dogs then underwent radiation for prostatic carcinoma, the average survival time was 196 days and the longest survival time was 9 months. I know this is hard to hear, but I think it is important that you have realistic expectations if you decide to go forward with this.

If you are not already consulting with a specialist in veterinary oncology, that would be a good idea, as they would be able to give the likelihood of response in your particular dog's situation. I'm sure your vet would be happy to make a referral for you if they have not done so already. If you need help finding a specialist near you, please let me know.

I hope this information is helpful. If so, click Accept. If you have additional questions on this topic, please let me know. I wish you and your dog the best.
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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Oh yes, he is being treated by an onocologist. This is basically what they are saying. However, they said that radiation was not a first choice of treatment, that chemo was. This chemo made him sick and the tumor grew. They said a different type of chemo will make him even more sick.

Your answer was very helpful and confirming.

Please tell me if I am wasting time with radiation.

Many Thanks,
Jackie Recine
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 8 years ago.
HI Jackie Recine -

First, know that there are no right and wrong choices here. I know every decision you are making are is being done with only the best of intentions.

My short answer here is if there is evidence of spread of the tumor (based on x-rays, ultrasound, and possible CT scan results if available) then you are probably wasting time with radiation. If there is no evidence of spread, it may be worth trying, but do so with realistic expectations. You are likely only buying a few months of extra time in this situation. Whether this amount of extra time is worth going through the procedure is a personal choice.

Let me know if I can be of further help.