Osteosarcoma in Pit Bulls

Last Modified: August 21, 2005


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I am a small animal vet who is currently working up potential bone cancer in a pit bull. What are the incidences of osteosarcoma in pit bulls? The owners found something on the Internet about using tetracycline to treat osteosarcomas, while I have never heard of this treatment. I was wondering if there was any new research I am not aware of? Thank you.


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

The current incidence of osteosarcoma in "pit bull" type dogs is currently unknown. Coincidentally, however, this information is currently being compiled and will be posted on OncoLink's veterinary site within the next few months. In general, while any dog can develop osteosarcoma, it is much more common in large and giant breed dogs.

Regarding tetracyclines in the treatment of cancer, there was some research done within the past 5 years or so. It was primarily studying the effects of tetracyclines on prevention of tumor metastases to bone, rather than treatment of primary bone tumors. The rationale is based on the tetracycline class of drugs' ability to inhibit connective tissue breakdown via inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). However, there have been no conclusive studies showing that inhibition of MMPs, by tetracyclines or by other drugs, has had a significant and reliable anti-cancer effect.