The Big C

R-VetAngelaWe all worry about the ‘big C’.

Of course cancer isn’t one condition but multiple diseases caused by an uncontrolled division of cells in a part of the body. The tissue affected could be skin, intestine, blood, or bone for example, and the tumour could be benign, or malignant, meaning the cancerous cells may spread to other parts of the body. Tumours of bone tissue or tumours that invade bone have always been a challenge. Mostly these tumours are aggressive, fast growing and can quickly spread to lymph nodes and other organs.

We rely on surgery to treat these tumours, sometimes with chemotherapy or radiotherapy as follow up treatments. Osteosarcomas are a common bone tumour mostly seen in large breed dogs like Great Danes and commonly affect the radius of the forelimb. The lower and upper jaw are other common sites for bone tumours. Surgery needs to be radical because of the aggressive nature of these tumours, meaning large sections of bone have to be removed. Until recently limb amputation or disfiguring jaw surgery were the only options, apart from palliative treatment and euthanasia.

Now with computer technology and the magic of 3D printing it is possible to create titanium implants that are customised to the individual patient. The animal undergoes a CT scan, and the 3D information is sent off to the manufacturer to create a titanium model that exactly matches the section of bone that will be removed.

The bony tumour is surgically removed and the titanium implant replaces it, so that form and function can return quickly and the animal can go back to eating or exercising normally.

Of course this is all quite expensive and still pioneering, but given time the procedure will become more recognised and benefits may flow into the human field.

Just another string to our bow in fighting the ‘big C’.

F_R_OtakiVetOtaki Veterinary Centre

269 Mill Road, Otaki 06 364 6941

Angela Ford BVM&S MRCVS MACVSc Emma & Jen — Veterinary nurses

Mobile Vet service — we come to you 24 Hrs advice and emergency service — Ring 364 6941 Microchips scanned at no cost and replaced for free if required