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How a 13-year-old Dog with Hemangiosarcoma is Thriving Thanks to Current Clinical Trials

a mixed dog sits with blondish fur and looks at the camera
Photo by Jason Flynn and the UMNVMC

Charlie is a 13-year-old golden retriever/beagle/basset mix hound adoptée who had a rough start before founding his family. Like many others, he appeared lethargic one morning and was rushed to the UMN, where his splenic hemangiosarcoma diagnostic was sadly confirmed. Charlie went through a splenectomy that same day despite his age.

To go through surgery is a difficult decision the family needs to make amid an emergency, but keeping in mind the procedure alone prolongs their life an average of one to three months, while accompanied by chemotherapy may extend it for four to six months can help aid that rushed decision.

Fortunately for Charlie, being treated in the Veterinary Medical Center has its perks. Jason Flynn expressed: “We decided to do the surgery because of the possibility to try a new treatment and see if outcomes are better than surgery and standard chemotherapy alone. And knowing that those additional options are covered financially through the study provided some peace of mind.”

The UMN College of Veterinary Medicine is home to the Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center, which supports more than 40 clinical trials that may lead to new drugs, devices, procedures, and treatments focusing on helping dogs diagnosed with cancer.

They enrolled Charlie in a trial that seeks to improve outcomes for hemangiosarcoma. Researchers analyzed tumor and blood samples to understand what treatments may provide the best chance of extending length and quality of life. After analyzing their particular cases, dogs receive one of four possible treatments. Charlie was part of a treatment group receiving two types of chemotherapy, one via IV and another one given orally at home. Fortunately, at his last recheck, imaging showed no evidence of cancer progression in his chest or abdomen.

While his future is uncertain, Charlie is back to being his old self completely, alert, happy, going for walks, and living a good present despite his diagnosis.

This study case displays how significant - despite the fears, doubts, and concerns that the families may have about - signing up their dogs carrying this fast-paced and incapacitating disease is to clinical trials that work tirelessly to better their lives and prognosis.

“I am very excited to be a part of this multidisciplinary collaboration where researchers from different organizations have an opportunity to test new concepts while conducting a clinical trial,” says Dr. Antonella Borgatti, director of the Clinical Investigation Center and principal investigator for the trial. “We are all working toward a common goal, which is to contribute to finding curative outcomes for dogs with hemangiosarcoma. We could not do this without the support and dedication of dogs like Charlie and their amazing families.”

For more information about their trials, you can visit the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine website.


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