Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is estimated to affect more than 8,000 dogs annually. Most common in large and giant breed dogs, this aggressive cancer is considered as a primary bone cancer meaning it begins in the bone and then spreads to other body systems. While Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer found in cats, it is rare in comparison to the disease in dogs and is often a less aggressive cancer in our feline friends. Owners may first notice intermittent lameness in their pet that progressively worsens over a period of 1-3 months. Inflammation and swelling are common at the site of the tumor as the disease progresses. Radiographs (x-rays) are a common source of information gathered to determine an Osteosarcoma diagnosis. Characteristics commonly noted on x-ray of Osteosarcoma are increased bone production in abnormal formations and destruction of bone in areas where normal bone structure should be present. Radiographs may also show bones with a sponge like appearance and fractures may occur as a result of the decreased bone density. Biopsy is commonly used to provide definitive diagnosis although your veterinarian may recommend additional testing such as lung x-rays and as well in order to evaluate the overall health status of your pet.
Prognosis depends on the stage and spread of the disease. In cats, amputation of the limb is typically a definitive treatment. For our canine best friends, amputation followed by chemotherapy is commonly recommended for patients that have no indications that the cancer has spread to other body systems. In the event that metastasis are located in other body systems radiation therapy, chemotherapy and pain relief are typically the recommended course of treatment. Proper nutrition and supplementation are commonly recommended in order to provide supportive care to our four legged or rather three legged amputee friends. A vast majority of animals recover well from amputation surgery and go on to lead a “normal” life. Unlike humans undergoing chemotherapy, pets maintain a high quality of life during and after treatment. A cure is possible for Osteosarcoma, however owners should discuss in detail with a cancer specialist what to expect from the treatment process. Pets that survive Osteosarcoma can expect to encounter decreased lifespans following treatment of the disease, however each case is unique and best discussed with your veterinarian.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information or referrals to cancer specialists if you have questions about your pet’s cancer.
For more information on how Osteosarcoma can affect your pet or visit:
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff