Saturday, January 16, 2010

Canine Chemotherapy

Without any treatment, Dogs with Lymphosarcoma usually have about about 4-6 weeks of life from diagnosis. That was an option I was simply NOT going to accept. Currently, the best treatment to extend Skipper's life was chemotherapy. Most people are familiar with the horrible side effects of chemotherapy in humans. We did not want to put Skipper through such misery. However, after doing our research, and checking with our vet, we were told that the side effects were not as bad in dogs as they were in humans. Now, do not get me wrong, chemotherapy in dogs uses many of the same drugs as in humans, and these drugs are essentially poison. I still feel apprehensive about introducing poisons into my dog's body. But as long as Skipper's quality of life remains high, chemotherapy remains our best chance of winning against cancer.

Shortly after the veterinarian told us we were dealing with Lymphosarcoma, we did research all weekend on the internet to look at the possible treatment options. We decided to go with the Wisconsin-Madison Protocol for the chemotherapy treatment, named after the school where it was developed, the University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers on this!) . The Wisconsin Protocol is a six month (25 week) treatment, using 4 chemotherapy agents; Vincristine, Asparaginase, Cyclophosphamide, and Doxorubicin. Prednisone is also part of the treatment, and is given in pill form, at least for the first few weeks. Skipper had his first Chemo Treatment with Vincristine, on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010. The following day, he was given the Asparaginase. Going forward, we should only have to take Skipper to the vet once a week for his chemo treatments.

After the first week, the noticeable side effects have been minor. Skipper's appetite has increased substantially, which the doctor told us would happen, and he has had some loose stools and diarrhea, but that has been the extent so far. Within 24 hours of finishing his first week chemo treatment, Skipper has been more active than he has been the last 3 weeks. He proudly howls, and walks around the house, sniffing for food like any other healthy Beagle. We are encouraged by the early progress he has made. But we still have a long road against us. Skipper's condition, like most cancer patients, is delicate, and we expect there to be some highs and lows for us in the future. For now however, I will take the fact that he appears happy and active.

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