Canine Osteosarcoma is bone cancer, generally found in the leg bones of dogs weighing over 80 pounds. This includes large and giant breeds of dogs such as Rottweilers and Great Danes.
Symptoms associated with Canine Osteosarcoma are pain and lameness in the affected leg as well as a great deal of unexplainable swelling of the bone. Any dog with these symptoms should be taken to their veterinarian, especially if the symptoms get worse or do not go away in a timely manner.
When the dog that has these symptoms arrives at its veterinarian’s clinic, the veterinarian will do a physical exam, paying close attention to the leg in question. An x-ray of the affected leg will follow the physical exam. If the veterinarian cannot make a definite diagnosis after performing a physical exam and reading the x-ray, a biopsy may be performed.
After the dog has been diagnosed with Canine Osteosarcoma, the veterinarian will begin treatment. The most effective treatment is amputation of the affected leg, followed by chemotherapy. When possible surgery to remove only the tumor will be performed instead of an amputation. This limb-sparing surgery is also followed by chemotherapy. Radiation is also used at times as a treatment.
Chemotherapy is very important in treating Canine Osteosarcoma. In veterinary medicine, chemotherapy is not used to cure the cancer, but is used to prolong the animal’s life. The chemotherapy medicines used are Carboplatin, Cisplatin or Doxorubicin. Surgery alone only affords the dog an extra 2 to 4 months to live; whereas surgery combined with chemotherapy can extend the dog’s life for up to a year. Chemotherapy does have side effects though, due to fast growing cells being killed by the chemotherapy. Fast growing cells that line the stomach are also included in this killing and this causes side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and infections.
Canine Osteosarcoma is a very painful condition. Even though it is so painful, painkillers are not generally included in the treatment. The reason for this is that the pain is so great, the painkillers will do no good, or they are rarely last long enough to help the dog.
The outcome for treating Canine Osteosarcoma is not that great. This cancer is only cured about 10% of the time. Remission is usually the best to hope for, and will usually last up to one year. Canine Osteosarcoma is known to metastasize quickly to the lung, making it fatal. But, because of the amount of pain the dog endures, most dogs diagnosed with this cancer are euthanized before they have to suffer any longer.