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What is Metronomic Chemotherapy?

Metronomic chemotherapy is an innovative treatment method for both canine and human cancers. In metronomic chemotherapy, lower doses of chemotherapeutic drugs are administered orally on a regular basis. This approach focuses on preserving normal cells, cutting off the blood supply to the tumor, and boosting the immune system. Because it is administered in high doses, traditional chemotherapy often damages the DNA of normal cells. Lower, regular doses minimize damage to the regular cells and do not suppress the immune system like other types of chemotherapy.

The aim of metronomic chemotherapy is to keep the tumor the same size rather than shrink or obliterate it. Essentially, metronomic chemotherapy treats cancer as a chronic condition, provided that it has not caused severe pain or complications for the dog. Metronomic chemotherapy has fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapies. It may be recommended for dogs that have certain types of cancers or cannot tolerate traditional chemotherapy.

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Metronomic Chemotherapy Procedure in Dogs

Since metronomic chemotherapy is administered orally, there is no surgical procedure involved. The veterinarian will conduct blood and urine tests before prescribing a metronomic chemotherapy regimen. Metronomic chemotherapy drugs are usually administered every day or every other day. Upon prescription, the veterinarian will advise the owner on dosage, frequency, and side effects.

Efficacy of Metronomic Chemotherapy in Dogs

Metronomic chemotherapy has proven effective in managing cancerous tumors, especially for dogs that cannot tolerate traditional chemotherapy. It is even more effective for dogs diagnosed and treated early. Although 10% to 40% of patients experience side effects – including vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite – these effects are not as severe as those associated with traditional chemotherapy. Side effects are usually temporary and resolve on their own. Additionally, metronomic chemotherapy is cheaper and less invasive than traditional chemotherapy.

Metronomic Chemotherapy Recovery in Dogs

Owners should follow all dosage instructions exactly, and make a note of any side effects or complications that arise. If an allergic reaction occurs, owners should seek immediate veterinary attention. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled every four to eight weeks to take additional blood and urine samples and monitor healing progress. As treatment and healing progress, the veterinarian may choose to taper the dosage or decrease the frequency of follow-up appointments.

Cost of Metronomic Chemotherapy in Dogs

The cost of metronomic chemotherapy may vary based on standards of living, the amount of drugs prescribed, the size of the dog, and additional treatment costs. The price of metronomic chemotherapy ranges from $100 to $600 per month.

Dog Metronomic Chemotherapy Considerations

Because it is an oral treatment method, complications and side effects of metronomic chemotherapy are milder and less common compared to traditional chemotherapy. Side effects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Myelosuppression: A decrease in red and white blood cell count associated with decreased activity of bone marrow

Metronomic chemotherapy is a relatively new approach to cancer treatment. It is concerned with keeping the tumor the same size by cutting off the blood supply so the tumor cannot grow larger or spread. However, its effectiveness in treating many types of cancers has yet to be determined. Though the current veterinary literature is optimistic about metronomic chemotherapy, more wide-scale studies are needed to fully assess its effectiveness.

Metronomic Chemotherapy Prevention in Dogs

It is virtually impossible to prevent cancer in dogs. However, owners should limit their dogs’ exposure to carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents in the environment. These include cigarette smoke, air pollution, toxic chemicals, plastic, furniture, and more. Pet owners that are concerned about cancer should research carcinogens in dogs. Food bowls and toys made of certain materials, notably plastics containing BPA, may increase a dog’s risk for developing cancer. Dogs diagnosed and treated for cancer should not be bred. Owners should never administer oral chemotherapy drugs exclusively made for human use unless explicitly instructed to do so by a vet.

Metronomic Chemotherapy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of appetite, lethargy

My 9 year old beagle had a splenectomy in December and the tumor was determined to be stromal sarcoma. He did well after the surgery and is back to normal. The spleen had not ruptured. We talked to an oncologist and are trying to figure out if we should do the metronomic of IV chemo. Right now there is no evidence of cancer in his liver or his lungs. Can you help to make an informed decision. We know the IV chemo will be very hard on him. Thank you.

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Golden Retriever
9 Years
Moderate condition
2 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

wasting, weakness, pu/pd

Medication Used


Is Metronomic Chemotherapy thought to be effective in canine lymphoma--the type with the enlarged peripheral lymph nodes? The enlarged submandibular nodes were first noticed about 8 months ago, but treatment was not started until about 2 months ago.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Metronomic chemotherapy tends to be used more in mass-type cancers vs systemic cancers like lymphoma, but it may be effective. There are standard protocols for lymphoma, depending on the type, that can be effective as well. It would be best to consult with an oncologist to develop a plan for Amy based on her specific situation.

Thank you for your help and guidance.

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