There is new hope for dogs who have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Palladia is a drug that was originally developed and approved for the treatment of canine Grade II and III mast cell tumors, but recently, it has shown promise in treating several other kinds of previously hard-to-treat tumors. Its use in the battle against osteosarcoma has led to stabilization of rapidly spreading tumors, and experts have seen upwards of six months or more added to the lives of their patients.
Palladia works in a two-fold manner. First, it kills the cancer cells. Secondly, it cuts off the tumor’s blood supply, leading to its death. In addition to osteosarcoma and mast cell tumors, Palladia shows promise in other hard-to-treat tumors, such as squamous cell carcinomas, vaccine-associated fibrosarcomas and malignant melanomas.
This oral medication is given every other day, and with some precautions, pet parents can easily give it at home. Owners are advised to wash their hands after administering the medication, and should the coated tablet get wet (for instance, after the crafty dog spits out the tablet you were sure he;d swallowed), gloves should be worn for further handling. In addition, when the dog is being treated with Palladia, stool and vomit should be collected with gloved hands and placed in a sealable plastic bag before putting in the trash.
As with any medication, there are side effects that range from mild to severe. Decreased appetite, weight loss and bloody stool are the most commonly seen side effects associated with the use of Palladia.
Because osteosarcoma is painful, many patients are already on non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to manage pain. The use of NSAIDs can exacerbate intestinal bleeding, so their use should be limited while your dog is on Palladia. Other forms of pain control are available and safe to use with Palladia, so ask your veterinarian what is best.
Osteosarcoma metastasizes (or spreads) very rapidly, and having a new tool in the arsenal against it is a great thing. Palladia is not meant to be used as a replacement for surgery or radiation, but as an additional therapy for dogs with osteosarcoma. Best of all, like all cancer treatments available to canine patients, Palladia is eligible for coverage if you have a dog insurance policy through Petplan, which can help with the costs of treating your best friend's cancer.