Sunday, January 11, 2009

Info on Cancer Vaccine for Dogs

Laverne, one of our very first Sit Stay Read dogs and a favorite with all the kids, was recently diagnosed with melanoma. We're glad to report that the prognosis is good but her mom, Jenifer, is looking for info on the new cancer vaccine. If you, or someone you know, has firsthand experience, please email Jenifer at

Here's Jenifer's overview of the situation:

On Dec 19 Laverne had a tumor behind her ear removed and the tumor was diagnosed as being a malignant melanoma. It was a hard little (tiny cyst like thing) under her skin I found while looking for wood ticks last June. I discussed with the vet at that time and we decided it was likely a cyst and not urgent and we would take it out next time she had her teeth cleaned (which I did on December 19). The biopsy came back as malignant melanoma. The tumor was well encapsulated and not very active. There is a 1 in 4 chance or re-growth or metastasis to another area of her body. We do not know at this point if it has metastasized. To find this out, this Wednesday she will have some xrays done of her chest/lungs and a full blood work up. From this, I understand we will find out if the cancer is already spreading.

On the 14th, we have an appointment with a canine oncologist, Dr. Rhonda Feinmehl. At that point I will know where we stand and what needs to be done next. More than likely, we will start a protocol of injections of a canine melanoma vaccine. It is a clinical trial drug. Here is more information on it .

Regardless of whether the cancer has started to spread it’s likely we will go through with the vaccine protocol to give her the best chance for longtime health/survival. However, my concern at this point is possible side effects. For example, will she be able to still be out in the sun… she does love her belly time in the sun. Any possible thyroid side effects, etc. On the surface this information says there are no side effects, but I find this hard to believe. So, I am going to proceed cautiously and make any decision based on what will give her the best quality of life.

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