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Cancer And Tacrolimus Eye Drops For Dogs

Can tacrolimus eye drops and Cyclosporine ointment cause cancer in dogs? My precious dog, baby and best friend was diagnosed just last week with Transitional Cell Carcinoma in his bladder. It is a rapid growing cancer. I am completely heartbroken and am wondering if there was something I could've done to prevent this. He has been on these two eye medications for about a year. His name is Duke and he is a beautiful tri-colored collie and is a little over 10 years old. Also, is there any nutritional supplement that would help boost his immune system in the meantime? He is now on a medication called Prioxicam, which has been known to slow down the growth of tumors in dogs. Thank you for any information you may be able to share.
Christina
31 Responses
1916673 tn?1420236870
As far as I can tell, Tacrolimus acts alrgely by suppressing the immune system response, and there has been a slight correlation with lymphoma in humans, but I can't find anything that contraindicates cancer in canine patients. It would therefore be better to ask a vet about any suspicious links this drug has with cancer, be they large stats or small ones.

Cyclosporine acts in a similar way, and is certainly best avoided by dogs that already have cancer - but there are no contraindications of it producing cancer in dogs, as far as I am aware.

On the subject of immune boosting foods, one of the best are the omega 3 group of fatty acids, so choose dog foods rich in this element (or buy supplements from good pet stores). I have looked on the web for further info on this subject. Hope the para below is of value to you.

From the web: Antioxidants are among the most commonly used supplements to help pets with a variety of medical disorders. Antioxidants are specific vitamins (such as vitamin C and vitamin E) and plant and animal compounds (bioflavonoids such as grape seed extract, quercetin, coenzyme Q-10, ginkgo biloba) that are responsible for maintaining health. Technically, they do not boost the immune system (although proanthocyanidins appear to potentiate the immune system via enhancement of T-lymphocyte activity and modulation of neutrophil and macrophage responses) but rather clean up the products of cell damage (oxidizing chemicals.) Antioxidants also decrease various chemicals (histamine, interleukin, tumor necrosis factor) that cause cell damage. Because antioxidants minimize damage to cells, they are useful whenever disease is present and immune support is needed.

All the best

Tony
441382 tn?1452814169
In 2005, the FDA DID issue a warning for potential carcinogenic effects for the dermal tacrolimus (used to treat eczema) and recommended that it be used ONLY as a second-line medication and then only intermittently.  Of course, these warnings were for humans and they applied to the dermal type of tacrolimus that is applied to the skin, but it must be kept in mind that the drug is the drug so if it has a propensity for causing cancer in one form (dermal) it's entirely possible that it COULD cause it in another form (eye drops).

Is the vet POSITIVE that it's bladder cancer?  A raging urinary tract infection gives the same symptoms as TCC so unless a battery of tests were done to determine that it really IS TCC and not just an infection that's not yet responding to antibiotics it could still be a UTI.  As far as the bladder cancer goes, did the vet do tests to determine which grade it is?  There are two grades of bladder cancer, a low grade cancer with a superficial tumor or tumors and a high grade cancer with a rapidly growing tumor that can spread to other parts of the body.  For whatever reason, when humans get bladder cancer, it's almost always the low grade type but when dogs are afflicted with it, the reverse is true and it is most often the high grade type.  It is entirely possible, however, for humans to develop the high grade cancer and for dogs to develop the low grade cancer.  I wouldn't be ready to give up or give in until any tests that would determine which type your dog has have been done.  

Please keep us up to date on how he is doing.

Ghilly
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your reply. I cannot go into great detail at the moment since I'm writing this from my job and we are not on-line at home. But to answer your question, yes, my vet is certain that Duke has TCC. After three rounds of some very powerful antibiotics, an X-ray, and two ultrasounds, Duke had surgery last Friday and the biopsy definately indicates TCC. The vet said it couldn't be located in a worse place. It's in the neck if the bladder, it goes into the ureters (please pardon my poor spelling) and is also wrapped around his urethra 360 degrees. No wonder the little guy has such a hard time peeing. The outlook is not good. We go back today after work to get his stitches removed and to discuss some options.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you again.
Avatar universal
Thank you for such a quick reply. I have been suspicious about Duke's dry eye treatment for a while now. He's been on these medications for about a year. I am seriously considering discontinuing them and just use over the counter drops and ointments. I did consult with his doggie eye doctor about these drugs and she reassured me that they were completely safe. I've had Duke on a good omega 3 supplement that we purchase from our primary vet, and he is eating Iams Naturals. I have to supplement that on occasion with some cooked hamburger or chicken if he's not interested in eating so that he can take his piroxicam. Thank you for your research on my question. It's comforting to know that there are people out there that care. I am writing this from work, so cannot go into great detail.  Please read my reply to Ghilly regarding his surgery. Thank you again.
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi Christina. It sounds as if both you and Duke have been through quite an ordeal, one way and the other. He is a lucky dog to have you as his mum and I really hope the vet is able to give some positive news about treatment. It seems like you are already doing everything possible, particularly having started the omega-3 supplement early, so you may just have to take each 'event' as it comes and try not to stress too much. The most important thing in the world to Duke ... is YOU. Hope you can let us know what the vet says, once you have been there. With best wishes, Tony
Avatar universal
Hey, Tony, yes, it's been an ordeal for Duke, my husband and me. We don't have any children, and I think that may be one reason why this is so especially difficult. Thank you for your encouragement, it does help to know that there are people out there who really do understand the special bond with a dog. We went to the vet to get Duke's stitches out this week, armed with a long list of questions and concerns, all of which he patiently and thoroughly answered, explaining everything in great detail, medically and scientifically. We have a greater understanding of what's going on inside of Duke's body now. He could not tell us how much time Duke has left, however, there are just too many variables. In a nutshell, we just need to love and enjoy him for as long as we can and for as long as Duke is happy and comfortable. The vet said that Duke will likey have repeated UTI's so we will need to stay on top of that with monthly testing. He did fully support our decision not to go with the chemo route. I was feeling awfully gulity about that decision until he explained some more about it. The MAIN thing is keeping Duke comfortable for as long as possible, The vet told us what we needed to watch for when the time draws near ... whew. My heart aches, both emotionally and physically. Need to get back to work for now. Thank you for your understanding. Christina
1916673 tn?1420236870
Hi Christina. Sounds like you have a good and understanding vet, which is so important at times like this. It's often hard for us mere humans to appreciate that 10yrs for a dog is actually a really good age - and if we were canine, it would mean we were in our old age. The life of a dog may be all too short, but it's so full of activity and happiness - and I'm sure Duke would thank you (if he could talk) for every wonderful minute that he's shared with you. Just keep doing what you're doing and enjoy him for as long as you can. I know it's heartwrenching, but that's the price we pay for loving our dogs so very much. Give the guy a big hug from me - and take good care of yourself too. Talk here whenever you feel the urge, we all understand and appreciate the hard journey you are enduring. Tony
441382 tn?1452814169
Christina, my heart goes out to you!  I just adore Collies, I have lived with them for many years.  For me there is no other breed.  There's just something so special about them, once you bond with a Collie you can't get used to them you can't get used to the ways of other breeds.  I lost my girl Kate last May after a long illness and I tried, but I just cannot bond with another breed.  I now have a four month old sable and white collie puppy, Adam.  Such a little clown!  

Just enjoy every day you have with Duke.  Don't count the time, just live it.  He will let you know when he's ready and you never know, miracles do happen.  I would love to see a picture of Duke!  The tris are so pretty, especially a big male tri!  I don't know how else to say it other than they are just such a special breed, they have a way of taking you over.

Ghilly
Avatar universal
Good morning, Tony,
Oh, yes, we do have a very understanding, compassionate vet, and that certainly does help. He always takes all the time he needs to explain to us in great detail everything that's going on with Duke, and answers all of our questions, even when we've already asked the same questions two or three times before. We thank God for him. And yes, it is so hard to let these precious four-legged furry ones go. Life with a dog is way too short, but I would not trade one moment with Duke for anything. In the meantime, like you and our vet said, we just need to love and enjoy him for as long as we can, keeping in mind his comfort and quality of life. The vet said that he will have some good days, and some bad days. And when the bad days outweigh the good days, then it will be time to be thinking about a decision. So far, he's been having good days! And we treasure those good days. We are planning on taking him back to the woods for a hike(s) soon, now that he has recovered from his surgery, and for hopefully a few more rides in the canoe!  Got the camera and video all ready to go.
I appreciate you and Ghilly for your compassionate listening and for all of your support and advice. I would love to be able to talk more often, but I do this at work since we are not on-line at home, so I can't post as often as I would like. Hope you and your 'kids' are doing well.
Christina
Avatar universal
Ghilly, thank you so much for your understanding!  You and Tony have been such a source of comfort to me, and I truly appreciate you both for your compassion and research. I wish I could post more often, but I have to do this at work since we are not on-line at home, and wow, so often at home I wish I could just sit down and type away. But I am blessed with a wonderful and very patient husband, who will listen and hold me when my emotions get pretty raw. We both love Duke beyond belief, so at least we can share in this experience. I am so sorry to hear about your girl Kate ... what happened, if you don't mind me asking? Is that her in the picture next to your name? She's absolutely beautiful. Congratulations on your new baby, Adam! He is sooooooo cute! I wish you many, many wonderful, happy years together with this little guy! Yes, we are enjoying Duke as much as we can for the time we have remaining. And we do believe in miracles, we are praying for one. But if God chooses a different path for Duke, I am trusting Him to do what's best for Duke, regardless. I know God loves Duke, because He created him! I'm not much of a computer person, so I have no idea how to post a picture of Duke, but later on this week, my husband is going to show me how to 'upload' some pictures of Duke on this site. Hope we're successful with this, I'd love to show him off. He is beautiful. Well, I need to get back to work for now. Hope you and your Adam are having a good day!
Christina
441382 tn?1452814169
Hi Christina!  It's great to have an update from you and I am thrilled to hear that Duke is having all good days!  I am really looking forward to seeing pics of him, especially in a canoe!  LOL!

I lost Kate to something called exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, which is a case of the pancreas not producing the enzymes needed to digest food.  The disease can be managed, however, our problem is that it went undiagnosed for quite a long time because the vet kept thinking it was something else.  First it was misdiagnosed as Cushing's Disease, then diabetes.  Finally, after two years of research, it was I who discovered that she met all the criteria for EPI and the vet, after running still more tests, agreed with me.  By this time, however, it had taken such a toll on her body we were not able to bring her back from it.  She passed, at home in my arms, shortly thereafter.  Yes, that is her picture that I use as my avatar here.  I will always love her SO much!  She was actually funny!  She had a wonderful sense of humor and I think I loved her for that more than anything else!  :)

Adam is coming along nicely.  He had some issues when I first got him, he was petrified to be outside the house!  We have been working with him every day and he is getting better, but he still startles easily when he's outside.  Inside, however, he is following in Kate's pawprints in that he has a sense of humor too, and never ceases to have us laughing!  I think he's going to be quite large, he is just four and a half months old now and almost 20 inches tall already!  Yikes!  LOL!

Anyway, again, it was great to hear from you and I hope to hear many more positive updates about Duke!  Give him a big hug from me and you have a a great week!

Ghilly
Avatar universal
Hey there, Ghilly,

Just a quick note here before I leave work and go home. Wanted to let you know that Duke, my husband and I went HIKING Monday afternoon! I couldn't believe how energetic Duke was, and the trail was fairly challanging in some spots. He had an absolute blast! It was as if he was a young healthy dog again. That day was a gift and a blessing. We took lots of video shots. I hope and pray that we will have more days like that. Need to get him back out in the canoe, too. We are enjoying every second we have with him.

I was heartbroken for you when I read about your Kate. How very tragic that the EPI went undiagnosed for so long. Collies are indeed very special dogs. I think the bond we have with them is especially strong, they are so intuitive, sensitive, and oh yes, so funny! Duke has an amazing sense of humor, he actually plays tricks on me, like running off with one of my slippers and hiding it.

I need to run for now! Thank you again for your encouragement and understanding. Wish we were on-line at home, I'd be posting everyday.

Have a good rest of the week,
Christina
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