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Hot off the Presses – New Study Shines Light On Radiation for Nasal Sarcomas

Apr 02, 2013

A new study published in the March/April edition of Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound provides some very useful information about treating nasal sarcomas in dogs.  This study was entitled Survival Times for Canine Intranasal Sarcomas Treated with Radiation Therapy: 86 Cases (1996-2011), Sones et.al. Vet Radiol Ultrasound.  Nasal sarcomas comprise approximately 1/3 of nasal tumors in dogs and although previous papers have shown longer survival times for sarcomas, the number of patients treated in those papers has been limited. One exciting aspect of this study is how the authors used data from a number of institutions to be able to study a larger number of patients.  Many studies looking at the treatment of tumors in dogs and cats, do not include a large enough number of patients to be meaningful.  In the future, studies like this one will allow us to learn more about how to treat uncommon diseases.

Another critical piece of information from this study is that it confirms that dogs with nasal sarcomas can have an excellent outcome when treated with radiation therapy.  In this study dogs with nasal sarcomas had an average survival of almost 15 months with approximately 1/3 of the dogs living for greater than two years.  This confirms that prognosis can be very good with treatment.  The study also showed that dogs who received a definitive course of radiation, with treatments performed every day had a significantly longer survival than dogs treated with radiation every other day (21 months versus 11 months).  This is the first paper to show this for nasal tumors and it confirms the importance of treating patients daily with radiation.

A final key point of this study is that palliative radiation may be a good option for many pets.  Dogs treated with palliative radiation had a significantly shorter median survival than dogs treated with daily radiation (305 versus 641 days).  However palliative radiation still was helpful for most dogs.  Palliative radiation involves fewer treatments with less side effects and with an average survival time of 10 months this may be an excellent treatment option, especially for dogs who are not good candidates for definitive treatment.

Studies like this one continue to give us useful information to help us provide more quality time for our pets with cancer.


- Dr. John Farrelly (April 2013)