Doctor gives dogs with cancer a new lease on life

Mon Mar 2, 2009 7:33am EST
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By Ben Gruber

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters Life!) - Cody was dying of lymphoma and would probably not have made it to his 8th birthday had his family not taken him to one of the only hospitals that offers the bone marrow transplant he needed.

Two weeks after being admitted, Cody's doctors say the procedure was a success. He is hopefully cancer free for the rest of his life.

It's a success story with a twist -- Cody is a Golden Retriever.

Dr. Steven Suter, an assistant professor of oncology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, took a well established protocol for humans and applied it to dogs.

Suter says lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs and while chemotherapy will extend a dog's life for a couple of years, in the end 98 percent of patients succumb to the cancer.

His answer: cure the dog using the same methods that would be applied to a human with lymphoma.

The procedure involves a leukophoresis machine, a system designed to harvest stem cells from the patients blood, in conjuction with a drug therapy that helps extract stem cells from bone marrow.

The next step involves total body radiation to kill off any residual cancer cells before reintroducting the stem cells back into patient.   Continued...