Treatment options for a dog with osteogenic sarcoma, metastasized to the lungs

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I know that you can't give a medical opinion but I wonder if you could offer any advice? I don't expect a miracle but I need to try to find something that may help - I have a 7-year-old female Rottweiler who has osteogenic sarcoma. She was diagnosed 4 months ago and has had surgery to remove the affected limb.

Yesterday it was discovered that the cancer has invaded her lungs. I know that there is nothing that can be done to save her, but I am trying to locate any treatment that may offer some help with her breathing.

I know she now has a limited time and I want to make it as happy for her as I can. I would really appreciate any help you could offer.  
Thank you for your time

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section Menu, responds:

Thank you for your question and your interest.

Please refer to our document "Bone Tumors in Dogs" for more information on osteogenic sarcoma.

Unfortunately, once a tumor has spread to the lungs, the treatment options are usually aimed strictly at palliation (alleviation of clinical signs). In general, chemotherapy is not considered useful in treating these tumors once there is detectable spread to the lungs. However, in selected cases, it might be useful to try one or two cycles of chemotherapy and then evaluate your dog for a response (based on clinical signs and repeated chest X-rays). This treatment may not work, but if it does, the response is expected to be short-lived.

To help with her breathing, an anti-inflammatory medication might provide some significant temporary relief. Tumors are usually associated with some degree of inflammation. Traditionally, prednisone (cortisone) is used to decrease this swelling. However, we have also seen good results with another anti-inflammatory drug called piroxicam (Feldene). Consult her veterinarian about this treatment.

Also, if you have not already done so, please consult a veterinary oncology specialist. If there is not one in your area, most veterinary oncologists will be happy to provide a phone (or email) consultation TO YOUR VETERINARIAN. Most veterinary oncologists are unable to talk with clients directly if they have not actually seen the pet.