Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ask the vet

While reading Dr Dingle's latest proclamation in Nova, EoR also came across the following Q&A: A WORRYING LUMP - Animal Healing Q & A with Dr Clare Middle, BVMS CVA Cert1AVH.

A woman writes to holistic vet Dr Middle about her Pomeranian dog which has a tumour that she, as a pensioner, cannot afford to have treated with chemotherapy. That was two years ago, and now the lump is "40 or 50 cm in size".

If Wikipedia is to be believed, Pomeranians average 13-28cm high. If Nova is to be believed, the tumour has now grown to twice the size of the dog. Even if the dimensions are taken as 40-50mm it's still a large tumour, and the implication is that in the two years it has been growing its owner has not been back to the vet.

Dr Middle advises (EoR's emphasis):

It does sound as if the lump on Snowy's leg is a nasty one if the vet has recommended chemo. If it is a tumour of the bone, or an osteosarcoma, then it may have spread to other parts of the body, but small dogs rarely get this type of tumour. It is more likely to be a fibrosarcoma, which is unlikely to have spread. So if the vet has done a biopsy and knows it is this type of tumour, then this might sound drastic, but amputating the hind leg may be the best and most cost effective option if the lump is causing him pain. This would be easier and more successful than trying to remove the tumour, according to the information you have given me. Small breed dogs do not carry much weight on a hind leg and usually do well after an amputation.

However, if the lump is not causing him pain, that is, if he is using the leg without much of a limp, then it may be best to do nothing about it, or use herbs to reduce its growth rate. You can buy these herbs cheaply from a herbalist or health food shop which sells herbs, in either a dry herb or liquid tincture form. The herbs are, Burdock, Slippery Elm Bark, Sheep Sorrel, Red Clover, Indian or Turkish Rhubarb Root and Blessed Thistle.

Call EoR old fashioned and alarmist, but his recommendation would be for a vet to examine the dog urgently to determine the nature of the growth and how it has progressed. A fibrosarcoma is less likely to have spread, but is also extremely rare in comparison to osteosarcoma in dogs. How Dr Middle can differentiate based on a brief letter is an amazing demonstration of her skills.

Sadly, at 11 years old, and this advanced, it may well be that nothing can be done. Sitting back and seeing whether a hodge podge of herbs and doing nothing will effect a cure, however, are the sort of actions that kill people suffering from cancer.

Dr Middle also warns most strongly:

do NOT feed him dried commercial food, as the carbohydrate will weaken his immune system

because, you know, processed carbohydrates are all different from any other carbohydrates, with a completely different chemical structure, and they go straight for the immune system.


  1. I'll admit my ignorance and ask if there is any basis for the suggestion that small dogs are less susceptible than large dogs to different types of cancers? How could this be given that they are all just variations of the same species?

  2. "Osteosarcomas affect all dogs, but the disease frequency is considerably higher in large and giant breeds, including the Great Dane. It has been suggested that genetics may play an important role in this disease."

    Great Dane Club of America

    "Osteosarcoma usually arises in middle aged or elderly dogs but can arise in a dog of any age with larger breeds tending to develop tumors at younger ages."
    Mar Vista Animal Medical Center

  3. I wonder if there's any stats showing taller/bigger people are more susceptible to cancers than shorter/smaller people?

  4. "The relationship between body size (adult height and weight) and cancer incidence was investigated in an international ecological study of 24 populations. Site-specific and total cancer incidence rates (age standardized) from 1973 to 1977 were correlated with body size data generally obtained between 1954 and 1974. All-sites cancer incidence was highly correlated with height among both men (r = 0.50; p less than or equal to 0.01) and women (r = 0.70; p less than or equal to 0.001). Among men, there were significant correlations between height and cancers of the central nervous system (r = 0.72), prostate (r = 0.66), bladder (r = 0.65), pancreas (r = 0.59), lung (r = 0.47), and colon (r = 0.46). Significant correlations were observed for cancers of the rectum (r = 0.76), pancreas (r = 0.75), ovary (r = 0.73), central nervous system (r = 0.68), breast (r = 0.65), uterine corpus (r = 0.50), and bladder (r = 0.48) in women. Adjustment for weight altered these correlations only minimally. Weight was significantly correlated to all-sites cancer only among women (r = 0.44; p less than 0.05), and site-specific correlations were significant for the same sites as for height, but the magnitude of the correlation coefficients was somewhat diminished. In addition, adjustment for height greatly reduced the correlations with weight. These findings support previously observed associations between height and specific cancers (e.g., breast and colon) and identify several additional cancer sites that may be similarly related."
    International differences in body height and weight and their relationship to cancer incidence.


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