Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Electrochemotherapy for dogs: Take that, mast cell tumor!

Sinead the Boston terrier in her bed
Tiny Sinead the Boston terrier has been fighting a pesky mast cell tumor for several months. First, she had the little speck analyzed in her doctor's office through aspiration. Then, she had surgery to cut out the nasty bits. And then, she headed to a specialist for more talks about what should happen in her future.

But yesterday, she had a treatment that might end this whole problem for good.

Sinead had electrochemotherapy for her mast cell tumor. That treatment involves putting a tiny bit of chemoreactive stuff (cisplatin, in her case) into the spot that once held her tumor. Then, an electrical pulse was shot through that same spot.

Electricity tends to break cells apart, and it's powerful when used in combination with chemotherapy. Instead of simply flooding the area with chemicals that may or may not enter the cells, a doctor can put just a tiny bit of the agents into one specific spot. The electrical pulses break the cell membranes apart, and that allows the chemo agents to enter the area and kill off cancer cells.

Sinead the Boston terrier giving me the stink eye
Her stink-eye abilities remain intact.
We were warned that Sinead's tumor spot might swell up. And I've seen online photos of dogs that lost hair around the spot. Sinead has endured neither of these problems. I can see a tiny bit of swelling above that left eye, but it's no worse than a bee sting. And the site isn't painful at all. She doesn't wince when I touch it, and she isn't scratching it or worrying it.

This is a great therapy option for Sinead, as it allows her to kill off the cancer without losing her eye. And this targeted form of therapy is less likely to cause whole-body reactions like nausea or fatigue or weight loss.

And best of all, this is a treatment that comes with a very high cure rate. Some studies suggest that it can keep tumors from coming back for a little more than 3 years (and counting!).

Sinead the dog in her bed

Sinead is taking Benadryl for about 2 weeks, just to ensure that any remaining histamine cells (which are the cells that are packed inside of a mast cell tumor) are cleaned up and moved away. And she will need a recheck, just to make sure all has gone well.

But for now: Bye, bye cancer! We will not miss you!


  1. That is FANTASTIC! We are so happy for Sinead, and for you. :)

  2. Wow! That's amazing! Sinead is such a strong girl! Also very pretty! :) Be healthy and happy forever! <3

  3. That's pretty darn amazing and so are you Sinead!

  4. How amazing! Good luck Sinead and thank you for dropping in and visiting us!