Cancer is the most common killer of purebred dogs: in fact, nearly half of them die from some form of cancer. Overall, the most common form is skin cancer. In Leonbergers, bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma are the most common forms. As in humans, early detection can save or extend the life of your dog. Warning signs of cancer include:
- weight loss,
- bleeding or discharge from a body cavity,
- bumps or lumps that keep growing,
- persistent stiffness or lameness,
- breathing difficulties,
- bad breath or bodily odors,
- difficulty with defecation or urination,
- difficulty with eating or swallowing,
- lesions that won’t heal,
- sores that recur or won’t heal, and
- loss of appetite
Naturally, not every one of these signs and symptoms is applicable to all types of cancer. The only sign of Bronco’s squamous cell carcinoma was a lesion that wouldn’t heal.
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels. It often appears as a mass in the spleen, liver, or heart but can also be found elsewhere. It is challenging to diagnose and equally difficult to treat. It is most common in golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers but can occur in Leonbergers as well. In addition to genetic factors, certain toxins are associated with this cancer. Fortunately, there is a promising blood test (called the Shine On Study, or SOS) that identifies features of rare cells linked to this cancer and a novel drug therapy called eBAT (EGF bispecific ligand targeted angiotoxin). Both SOS and eBAT are still in the clinical-study phase at the time of this writing, but they offer hope for early detection and treatment.
Below is another piece of good news regarding cancer in dogs that a friend of ours alerted us to. I don’t know if it is related to the SOS study mentioned above. You can watch the video by clicking on it or by clicking here.
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