Bisphosphonates, a group of drugs that reduce bone destruction, are an alternative to canine osteosarcoma amputations, reports Dr. Jeannette M. Kelly from the Veterinary Cancer Care clinic in Santa Fe in her interview by Bisphosphonates inhibit bone resorption without inhibiting the process of bone mineralization and may prevent or delay metastatic disease. Fosamax, the controversial drug for women with osteoporosis and osteopenea, belongs to this group.

Zoledronate, a powerful bisphosphonate, possibly up to 500 times more powerful than Fosamax, increases bone production for a dog with a bone tumor: the tumor eats away at the bone and the zoledronate rebuilds the bone. You can actually form a bridge using this drug, and if you already have a pathological fracture, you can bridge new bone and stabilize it.

Moreover, after having received zoledronate, the dog that was formerly in excruciating pain, and not using his or her leg, is able to use it within 12 to 24 hours. It literally takes away the pain.

Zoledronate has a long acting mechanism, is given as an intravenous drip that takes about 15 – 20 minutes, and lasts for about a month. The dog will continue on zoledronate monthly, as long as the dog is using the leg and quality of life is good.

Lab studies are finding that the bisphosphonates kill cancer cells. They may potentially kill cancer cells locally as well as destroy pulmonary metastatic disease that may exist.

So dogs that are not candidates for amputation have another option besides radiation. The leg will break eventually, but the idea is to keep the dogs active and happy until that occurs. When it does, the option for amputation can be revisited. If no other option exists, the dog may have to be put down. But quality of life has been extended.

While clinical trials are being performed on zolendronate, the bisphosphonate pamidronate, a less powerful, less expensive bisphosphonate is a more widely available alternative for canine osteosarcoma amputation.


Filed under: Canine Osteosarcoma Pain Relief

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