Limb salvage in dogs with prior amputation

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: January 27, 2002


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

In March of 2000, my beloved canine companion was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. His Right rear leg was amputated, and after 3 months of chemo, we had an amazing survival. Unfortunately, a recent x-ray revealed cancer in the humerus. Because his right rear leg was already amputated, I understand that removal of the right front leg is not an option. So, my two questions are simple. Is limb salvage of the upper bones possible, and is this even an option for a dog that has already had one limb amputated? If not, is the only care palliative?  


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

Limb salvage of the humerus is difficult even in a dog with 3 good legs, and would not be recommended for a dog that has a prior amputation. Any treatment for osteosarcoma at this stage would be considered palliative because of the high risk of metastasis. Your dog's excellent survival thus far not withstanding. There are two relatively new treatment options that may or not be appropriate for your dog. The first is chemoembolization, which is currently being evaluated at the VHUP (Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania). Another is a radiation therapy protocol is being evaluated by the veterinary oncology service at the University of Colorado that involves removing the affected bone, applying a high dose of radiation, and replacing the bone. The conventional treatment option would be palliative radiation therapy combined with pain medications (such as narcotics combined with an anti-inflammatory).