No dog owner wants to think of the horrible diagnosis of cancer for their dog. As humans, not only are we aware of the pain and suffering we will feel, but we are also all too well aware of the pain and suffering our dogs may have to endure with the management and treatment of cancer.
Cancer is a scary diagnosis and quite often a death sentence for dogs. Not only are cancer treatments expensive, but without efficacy rates high enough to warrant the cost, many dog owners will not be able to cover cancer treatments. Often, for dogs and owners this means saying goodbye early to avoid suffering by both pet and owner. Some veterinarians and teaching colleges and universities offer clinical studies and trials which may help treat your dog's cancer and help you stay within a budget while trying to provide the best care for your pup.
Any help you can offer your dog is good help. If you have a veterinary team working hard to prevent cancer from developing in other dogs while treating your dog, it can certainly be a win-win situation. The biggest pro of having your dog participate in clinical treatment trials is that potentially your dog could be cured or given a longer life and a better quality of life. Though cancer research focuses on eliminating the disease altogether, while we still have to deal with cancers in humans and animals, clinical trials can offer treatment to your dog while potentially extending and improving his quality of life. Clinical trials exist so that doctors and researchers may have real life circumstances while trying and documenting a new drug for the benefit of a larger group, whether it be people or animals.
Having your dog participate in a clinical trial for cancer comes with negative aspects as well. Any time you sign up for a clinical trial, there are rules and regulations you will have to follow to keep the controls of the study the same across the board for the researchers and scientists behind the medications in the trial. This means researchers may control your dog's diet, for instance. Your dog may not be able to take any other medications while on the clinical trial. The research team will require you to bring your dog in for several visits throughout the trial, and they will also perform multiple tests to be able to document the effects of the drug. Your dog may end up enduring pain and side effects, which may be unknown at the time of the start of the clinical trial. And, of course, with the clinical trial, there are no guarantees. Your dog may have adverse reactions to the medication. Your dog may not survive. Your dog may become seriously ill, and you may not be able to treat other conditions while in the clinical trial.
There are drawbacks to starting a clinical trial, and there are also benefits participating in a clinical trial. This decision is a tough one to make for many dog owners. Talking with your oncologist and veterinarian, along with your friends and family, may help you decide best for your dog. If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, prognosis may or may not be good depending on the stage of cancer, the type of cancer, and the location of your dog's cancer. Many owners are happy with whatever treatment their oncologist can offer. While other owners, unsure of their dog’s future, may want to try something new to help their dog and potentially help dogs who may also develop cancer. If you are interested in participating in a dog cancer clinical trial, talk to your veterinarian or your local veterinary teaching college for details and options.