Our 12 year old yellow lab mix was diagnosed with lymphoma about 2 months ago. The treatment she has been on is the Wisconsin-Madison 25-week protocol. She went into complete remission 29 days after starting the chemo/prednisone treatments and is currently on week 9 of the schedule. She is doing great except for the first few days after each chemo treatment when she is understandably lethargic before recovering just in time to get chemo again the next week.
My questions to you, why is chemotherapy continued after a complete remission is obtained? If the goal is complete remission and it is achieved...why continue with the treatments? I know remission does not mean cured, but it means no clinical signs of cancer in the body. If this is the case, then why is the dog subjected to weeks more chemo and expense if the cancer is in remission?
Are there any facts or studies showing longer survival times if chemotherapy is continued after remission is achieved? She does much much better on the weeks she doesn't have chemo and if no significant increase in survival time is achieved by doing further chemo then I asked why do it? Why cause further harm, discomfort, stress and financial woes to both the dog and owner?
I would just like to know if anyone has ever quit and had success? Also, do you know of any studies on survival rates quitting after remission is achieved? Your thoughts please.
I am so sorry I don't have the personal experience of this, and hope others might contribute to your thread, who have.
But I would be of the same mind about this that you are.....if there were no 'clinical signs' of cancer, I'd want to discontinue the Chemo. I might be wrong. But that is how I'd feel. Chemo is very stressful to the whole system (as well as most often being effective, it is hard work!)
Can you talk to your vet or Oncologist about this?
I would definitely talk to the prescribing Vet with these exact questions. Of course you don't want to put harsh chemicals into your dog if not necessary. A less toxic option is "metronomic" or continous, low dose chemotherapy. In other words, you give your dog a pill or pill combination each day for the purpose of targeting different aspects of the tumor environment. For example, to target/slow down angiogenesis, drugs such as cyclophosphamide(cytoxan), lomustine, and NSAIDS (piroxicam, rimadyl, deramaxx) have shown anti-tumor properties. And to target cancers ability to invade/grow in new environment, Doxycycline, is used to inhibit tumor establishment in the body. I initially tried Lomustine with my dog, but discontinued after 6 days, as it made my dog lethargic and nauseous. The oncologist then suggested cytoxan, but I decided against it just because the possible complications seemed too scary, (possible bone marrow suppression, anemia, cystitis). So, after many other treatments (including partial amputation) we decided to use Rimadyl (the generic Novox from entirelypets.com is cheapest) every 12 hours, and Doxycycline every 12 hours as a form of low-dose chemo, (my vet calls in the generic to Walmart pharmacy for me- cheapest way to get it). I have to administer both with food, and water, as both have potential to cause gastrointestinal problems if given on an empty stomach or without water. So far so good. As far as we know, the cancer is in remission, (no signs of cancer in the body). A homeopathic vet also told me to give my dog Fractionated Pectin powder mixed in with food, as its supposed to rid the body of mestastasis. He recommended "Thorne Research's" brand, but probably other modified citrus pectins would do the job, (Thorne's is expensive.). Hope this helps.
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