Cancer doesn’t only affect humans. An estimated 12 million pets each year are diagnosed with cancer, and according to The Veterinary Cancer Society, cancer is responsible for premature death in around 47% of dogs and 32% of cancer. These statistics are heart-breaking for any owner, for whom their precious pet is a very much-loved part of their family. The good news is that pets diagnosed with cancer today have a better chance at being successfully treated than at any time before. This is largely due to improvements in early diagnosis, as well as developments in the treatments being offered thanks to a better understanding of what causes cancers to develop.
One of the newest forms of cancer treatment for pets is known as small molecule therapy. Our animal care specialists are delighted to be able to offer this innovative treatment here at our modern, comfortable facilities in Westford, MA and Windham, NH.
Small molecule therapy may not be one of the most well-known cancer treatments. However, studies have shown that it could be very effective at destroying cancer cells. Small molecule therapy is a form of ‘targeted’ cancer therapy. What this means is that rather than affecting large parts of your pet’s body, as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can, the approach is strictly limited to dealing with the cells that are responsible for the development of your pet’s cancer.
The aim of small molecule therapy is to attack individual molecular structures that are responsible for the special characteristics of certain tumor cells. This includes the specific molecules that are responsible for the growth, progression and spread of cancer.
Small molecule therapy involves using specific drugs to target cancerous cells. These are able to enter the cells more easily since they have a low molecular weight – hence the name small molecule therapy. Once inside the cells, the drugs can interfere with their targets, such as specific proteins, destroying them from the inside.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the most well-known forms of cancer treatment. Whilst they might still prove effective, small molecule therapy differs in several ways.
Small molecule therapy has the ability to act on specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer, rather than acting on all rapidly dividing cells, whether cancerous or normal.
Small molecule therapies are deliberately designed to interact with their target molecule, rather than because of general cell-killing ability.
Small molecule therapy drugs are often cytostatic, which means that they are able to block tumor cell growth. This is unlike standard chemotherapy where the drugs are cytotoxic and kills all cells, including tumor cells.
Every pet is completely unique and in order to ascertain if your furbaby is a good candidate for small molecule therapy, he would first need to attend a comprehensive consultation with our specialist team of pet cancer experts. We will then be able to make a treatment recommendation based upon his individual case.
If you have further questions about cancer in pets, or if you would like to arrange to get your pet assessed by our experienced animal care specialists, please contact either of our locations.