FDA approves cancer drug for dogs

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Signs of the times this week as the FDA gave its stamp of approval for the first drug designed specifically to treat cancer in dogs. It may be just the first of a series of new canine drugs.

On Thursday, KSL was introduced to a dog named Diego. He has lymphoma and has been on chemotherapy, but he may now need a second dose of what is called a "rescue chemo."

"We're actually a little concerned that Diego may be coming out of remission. He actually has a lymph node that we can feel just under his jaw here," explained Dr. Nate Cox, veterinarian at Cottonwood Animal Hospital.

Diego is not alone. Lots of dogs are getting cancer -- all kinds -- depending on their breed or mix. "Most of us feel like cancer is more common in dogs than it is in people; one out of four dogs die from cancer," Cox said.

He continued, "Certainly, there are factors involved, whether it is environmental and nutritional; and genetics plays a very large role in the development of canine cancer because some breeds have a much higher frequency of cancer than other breeds."

Cox is not surprised the FDA has approved a cancer drug for dogs. Pfizer's Palladia, as it's called, is approved for use to treat canine skin tumors, but other drugs for treating other types of cancers are sure to follow.

"Dogs are living longer. Owners are more willing to treat. They view their animals as part of their family," Cox said.

"When I was here and they told me he had lymphoma, I started crying. You know, the emotions just came. You remember when you get him as a puppy; he is he is a family member," said Erika Bryson, Diego's owner.

Only veterinary oncologists can use Palladia for now, but the drug most likely will be in use in all animal hospitals next year.

Most cancer types in humans have now been documented in dogs.

E-mail: eyeates@ksl.com

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