The vet says it’s cancer. Pfizer Animal Health estimates 1.2 million dog families get this news every year. You can’t believe it. Fortunately, your dog was born in the era of advanced veterinary medicine. Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved the very first cancer drug specifically designed to treat dogs. The drug is called Palladia and starting in 2010 it may offer some canine cancer patients another chance at life.

“This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine,” Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs,” she explained.

Palladia was made, tested and approved for use in dogs with potentially serious mast cell tumors, often seen as skin lumps, which can spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body if left untreated. This type of cancer accounts for about 20 percent of canine skin tumors. The drug works by cutting off the tumors’ blood supply and killing tumor cells.

The results are compelling. In clinical trials, skin tumors disappeared, shrunk or stopped growing altogether in 60 percent of dogs that were treated with Palladia. But not everybody is raving about the news. Jim Edwards of industry news website BNet Pharma warns that “Palladia can shrink tumors, but only until they start growing again. In fact, dogs with systemic tumors were excluded from the study.” He also sites side effects such as diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, lameness and weight loss as reasons to reconsider treatment. The drug “may extend your dog’s life,” says Edwards. But points out that it can also “potentially put a lot of dogs through some unnecessary pain.”

At Woof Report, we believe that some options are better than none. Palladia presents the first pup-approved choice for cancer treatment, and that’s big progress. Prescribed in conjunction with other therapies and of course, love, it may be the right fit for some dogs with cancer. Luckily, many vets won’t need to wait until next year to start using Palladia. The drug is available to certain veterinary oncology specialists before the early-2010 release date.

The Scoop:

Get further insight about this breakthrough in veterinary medicine from the post below from one of our favorites vet blogs,

See the official government press release.

Thank you to our Woof Report Friend and cancer survivor Nakkai for the photo.