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Osteosarcoma

Liaison: Liz Swearingen
Email: moonmistsams@gmail.com

Osteosarcoma (OSA) is a malignant tumor of the bone (bone cancer).  It can develop in any bone, but occurs most often in the limbs, near the shoulder, wrist or knee.


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Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms depend on the location of the tumor:


Limbs:

  • Lameness due to inflammation, fractures or microfractures

  • Swelling or mass at the site of the tumor, sometimes painful


Lower jaw or orbital (eye socket)

  • Difficulty swallowing


Skull or vertebrae

  • Neurologic deficits


Pelvis

  • Difficulty defecating


Causes

The exact cause of osteosarcoma is unknown.  The tumors are often found near growth plates, so factors promoting rapid growth rate and bone turnover may be involved.   In animal studies, several viruses (polyomavirus, SV-40 virus and type C retroviruses), fluoride, and metabolites of the insecticide diflubenzuron, have been linked to osteosarcoma.


Risk Factors

  • Dog is a large or giant breed

  • Previous fractures

  • Chronic bone infections

  • Foreign bodies such as metal bone implants

  • Mutation in p53 tumor suppressor gene

  • Spaying or neutering prior to one year of age (see link below)

 

Cooley DM et al.  2002.  Endogenous Gonadal Hormone Exposure and Bone Sarcoma Risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11:1434.     three bones rating


Diagnostic Tests

Diagnosis may include the following:

  • Physical exam to rule out other causes of lameness

  • Orthopedic exam to rule out other causes of lameness

  • Neurological exam to rule out other causes of lameness

  • X-rays of the suspected tumor 

  • X-rays of the lungs to look for metastases

  • Bone biopsy to definitively identify the tumor

  • Abdominal ultrasound (to look for metastases)


Other types of cancer and infection must be ruled out.

  • Chondrosarcoma - a tumor of the cartilage

  • Squamous cell carcinoma in the external coating of bone

  • Synovial cell sarcoma - a tumor of the joint capsule lining

  • Infection of the bone such as Coccidioidomycosis, caused by the fungus Coccidiodes immitis

 


Treatment Guidelines

Note: Treatment of animals should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. Veterinarians should consult the current literature and current pharmacological formularies before initiating any treatment protocol.

Treatment plans for osteosarcoma may be either curative or palliative (relieve/lessen pain without curing).  


If the intent is to attempt a cure, the tumor must be removed either by amputation or, when possible, limb sparing procedures.  Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy to reduce metastases.  Because most tumors have already metastasized when diagnosed, cure is difficult.


Palliative care typically includes radiation and pain medication.


Artemisinin is an herb that has been shown to kill some cancer cells in the laboratory.  Anecdotal reports claim that it can stop the growth of osteosarcoma in dogs, but peer-reviewed scientific research has not yet been published.

 

Prognosis: 

Prognosis depends on many factors including the dog's age (it is more aggressive in younger dogs), size of tumor, location of tumor, blood levels of alkaline phosphatase, and presence of metastases.  Survival times vary greatly.  Median survival times of 3-18 months have been reported, depending on the location. 


Management

If amputation is required, most dogs do very well on three legs, not realizing that they are disabled!

 

Help for Tripod Dogs     one bone rating


References

Osteosarcoma, caninecancer.com     one bone rating

 

 Canine Osteosarcoma, marvistavet.com     two bones rating

 

   

 


Support Groups

 Bone Cancer Dogs, Inc.

 

Canine Cancer Awareness Organization

     

Bone Cancer Dogs 

Yahoo Group

 

Suggested Links

 

Chun R  et al: Cisplatin and doxorubicin combination chemotherapy for the treatment of canine osteosarcoma: J Vet Intern Med. 2000 Sep-Oct;14(5):495-8.      three bones rating


BoneCancerDogs, Inc       one bone rating

 

Osteosarcoma - Wikipedia    two bones rating


Bone Cancer in Dogs    at www.dogcancer.net  one bone rating


Canine Osteosarcoma: The Most Common Bone Disease   at www.vetinfo.com    two bones rating


Kuntz C.  Appendix B: Canine Osteosarcoma.  In Musculoskeletal Cancer Surgery, Treatment of Sarcomas and Allied Diseases.  Ed. MM Malawer and PH Sugarbaker.  Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001.      four bones rating


Canine Osteosarcoma: Amputation and Life Quality  at www.dogcancerblog.com    two bones rating


Canine Osteosarcoma Treatment   at www.dog-health-guide.org  two bones rating


The Gabriel Institute - Research in Canine Osteosarcoma     one bone rating


Common Cancers - Osteosarcoma   at www.caninecancerawareness.org    one bone rating


Current Research


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