New treatment now available.

By Brenda Phillips, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology).
Veterinary Specialty Hospital.

In January, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, gave conditional approval for the first new animal drug to treat canine lymphoma. Also called lymphosarcoma, lymphoma is a type of cancer in dogs. Lymphoma can affect virtually any organ in the body, but it most commonly starts in organs that function as part of the immune system, such as the lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow. The signs of lymphoma in dogs vary depending on which organs are affected. Some common signs are lumps under the neck, in front of the shoulders, in the groin region or behind the knees, lethargy, lack of appetite or weight loss. Importantly, many dogs diagnosed with lymphoma do not have immediate signs of illness. Tests to diagnose lymphoma often include aspirates of the abnormal lymph nodes that are submitted to a cytology pathologist, as well as a complete blood count, chest x-rays and abdominal ultrasound.

Lymphoma is treatable with chemotherapy, often administered under the direction of a veterinary oncologist. Treatment can improve quality of life and slow the progression of this aggressive disease. However, lymphoma is rarely cured in dogs; hence the need for more effective and well-tolerated chemotherapy options. Rabacfosadine, a substance that kills rapidly growing cancer cells, and preferentially targets lymphoid cells compared to other cells in the body is the active ingredient in Tanovea-CA1.

Tanovea-CA1 must be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian as professional expertise is needed to correctly diagnose lymphoma in dogs, determine the best treatment and appropriately dose the delivered product. The 30-minute intravenous infusion should be given by or under the supervision of a veterinarian experienced in chemotherapy.

The “CA1” in Tanovea-CA1 means the drug is conditionally approved. This means that when used according to the label, the drug is safe and has a “reasonable expectation of effectiveness” for treating lymphoma in dogs. Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego, under the direction of Dr. Brenda Phillips, Medical Oncologist, was one of a small number of hospitals nationwide that participated in the clinical trials of this drug, leading to its conditional approval.

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