Bisphosphonates: When Amputation isn’t an Option for Osteosarcoma

This is Deb Walz’s Golden Retriever Selka, or more formally, Sandhill’s Goldust Selka. A lover of the sport no matter what the season, he also enjoys dumping snow from his Frisbee onto his head! Now, that is what we call one thinking Golden! According to Deb, Selka is a joy to everyone who knows him and spends his time retrieving, working as a therapy dog or laying in Mom’s lap. Selka has greeted folks for years at our foundation’s page on the sport of Canine Frisbee.

So, we were especially sad to receive this news today from Deb:

Rochelle, I wanted to share the sad news that our beloved golden Selka has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Amputation was not a good choice as he has some neuropathy in his hind legs and probably could not walk on three legs. We are doing the best we can, loving him as we always do and spoiling him until the time comes to say goodbye. We do not want him to suffer at all. You will remember the photo of him in the winter with his red frisbee that you used in one of your sections here.

Tripawds has a great article on the new options for patients like Selka.

More recently, there is a promising new option for non-amputation candidates: bisphosphonates. You’ve probably heard of them: Fosamax and Boniva are two. This class of drugs is used in human patients with osteoperosis, or those with prostate or breast cancer that has metastasized to bone.

Now, many veterinary oncologists are using bisphosphonates for canine patients, to build and stabilize bone, and effectively manage pain. In some cases, bisphosphonates can also be used for dogs with osteosarcoma metastasis to bony areas such as the spine or skull.

Typically, non-amputee dogs being treated for osteosarcoma are given the bisphosphonate drug Pamidronate. This drug is given as a two hour IV injection every four weeks. Pamidronate may also be given in conjunction with radiation therapy for pain control.

At the Veterinary Cancer Center (VCC), dogs have the most powerful bisphosphonate available; Zoledronate. For the last year, the VCC team has conducted a Zoledronate clinical trial on dogs with bone cancer, and so far, the results are promising.

I actually know of a canine patient who has been on Pamidronate for almost a year and is now able to run and play like old times, before being diagnosed. I do not have detailed information regarding the Zoledronate clinical trial which is being conducted at the Veterinary Cancer Center in Santa Fe, NM, but contact information is available here.


6 thoughts on “Bisphosphonates: When Amputation isn’t an Option for Osteosarcoma

  1. Thank you so much Rochelle!!! We are in contact with the Vet Cancer care Center and Selka may qualify for the trial.

  2. I have a dog with Extraskeletel soft tissue osteosarcoma. I am looking for options for this dog.

    Consulting with a local Board Certified Oncologist, I still get comments that it is rare and that there is not a definite protocol for treatment. I have also contacted Dr. Couto from Ohio State for his comments (the Greyhound Project) – and, again, there is not a lot about this form of cancer. I am leaning towards chemo (no radiation) and seeing how he does with that.

    This is a 9 year old Greyhound that I have had over 5 years – he has a clear chest x-ray and a clear x-ray of his (formerly) broken leg. His tumor was located midway along his side – about 2 inches below the spine. It was not connected to the spine. He is eating, sleeping, drinking, peeing and pooping normally. He has no signs of any discomfort. He is running in the backyard with his brother Greyhounds.

    I am looking for guidance as to how to attack this cancer so it does not return. Information on having seen this form of cancer – what was done to treat it – how long the dog lived beyond the date of diagnosis – anything you can tell me would be appreciated.

    Thank you for considering my request. I look for a speedy reply as it is time to begin treatment before it rears its ugly head once again.

  3. Rochelle,
    After much researching through Santa Fe, Co. State and Kansas State we found a vet in our own city who is following the bisphosphpnate protocol. Selka received his first IV infusion last Wed. It really seemed to help. Then on Friday, he slipped and fell in our kitchen and his tumor swelled. So our vet treated him with ultraviolet laser on his tumor and hopefully that has helped his pain. He is also taking Tramadol and Rimadyl for pain but he is eating well, wagging his tail and smiling and rolls in the grass several times a day.
    Thank you for letting us know about this treatment. We are praying it gives us more time with our beloved Selka.
    Thank you,

  4. Oh, Deb, I am so glad to hear that ‘our’ boy is still enjoying life. The fact that he may be with you any degree longer warms the heart. Thanks so much for letting me know.

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