Now available: Australia’s first canine cancer medicine
Tuesday 6 March
Dog owners whose pets are suffering from a devastating form of canine cancer now have access to a new medicine specifically developed for dogs. Available now from vets, the new medicine is designed to improve your dog’s quality of life and chance of survival if they have been diagnosed with a mast cell tumour.
Developed by Pfizer Animal Health, this new medicine is administered orally and works by killing cancer cells and cutting off the blood supply to skin-based mast cell tumours. This potentially lethal form of canine cancer can appear as wart-like lumps on the surface of the dog’s skin.[i]
Australian vet Dr Rod Straw, founder of the Australian Animal Cancer Foundation and the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre, was one of the first vets to use the medicine in Australia.
“Dogs are an important part of Australian families and they deserve the best chance possible to live a good quality life, even if they are suffering from canine cancer,” says Dr Straw. “With one in four dogs developing a tumour at some stage in their life,[ii] canine cancer is the biggest killer of dogs. When an owner is given the devastating news that their beloved pet has cancer, their primary concern is to limit their dog’s day-to-day pain and suffering. This new medicine gives vets and owners the best chance to do this.”
This new medicine meets a significant need to provide dogs with a treatment option that is made especially for the canine species. Prior to this, vets relied solely on human cancer medicines.
“For a long time, human medicines were the only option for treating mast cell tumours in dogs. Given that these medicines weren’t developed with canine cancer in mind, it is only through trial and error that we as vets were able to identify a safe dose and work out how to best administer the medicine for each individual dog,” says Dr Straw.
This medicine has been in development for over a decade and has undergone extensive testing. Lead researcher and practising veterinary cancer specialist, Associate Professor Cheryl London, has been involved in all stages of the medicine’s development. The Associate Professor at Ohio State University in the US is eager to see this new option in canine cancer treatment be available to all affected dogs in Australia.
Associate Professor London’s own clinical study found that three in five dogs (60%) that were given the medicine saw their tumours disappear, shrink or stop growing altogether.[iii] This outcome will traditionally extend the dog’s life and reduce the pain and suffering they may be experiencing as a result of the cancer.
“As a dog owner and a scientist, I am very proud to have been involved in this project since its inception in 2000,” says Associate Professor London. “If you’re a dog owner whose pet’s life is threatened by a mast cell tumour, the introduction of this medicine is a significant step forward in not only fighting the disease, but also in improving their quality of life.”
Dog owners seeking more information on the medicine and canine cancer should speak to their local vet.
[ii] European Society of Veterinary Oncology, Information for pet owners, date viewed 9 January 2012 <www.esvonc.org>
[iii] London CA, et al. Multi-center, placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study of oral
toceranib phosphate (SU11654), a receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the treatment of dogs with recurrent (either local or distant) mast cell tumor following surgical excision. Clin Cancer Res. 2009;15:3856-3865