How complete tumour removal in dogs cuts risk of cancer's return

Cancerous tumours in dogs need to be completely removed.
Cancerous tumours in dogs need to be completely removed.

In dogs, soft tissue sarcoma is a group of malignant cancers that come from skin or connective tissue. Now, a new research review says when a tumour is completely removed, the risk of cancer returning is cut by nearly two-thirds.

Veterinary researchers from Oregon State University analysed 10 studies, which included 278 dogs operated on for soft tissue sarcoma.

Complete removal of tumour

Cancer returned in less than 10% of dogs where the cancer was completely removed, compared to 33% of animals who showed microscopic evidence that tumour cells remained after surgery.

That means that the risk of recurrence was 60% lower in dogs that had complete removal of tumours, according to the review authors.

"You want to get all of the tumour out if you can," lead author Dr Milan Milovancev said in a university news release. "That's what most veterinarians, including myself, have thought, but this makes it more official. Now we can say, here's the data."

Milovancev is an associate professor of small animal surgery at OSU's Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine in Corvallis.

The study was an analysis of existing studies, which offered conflicting information about the removal of soft tissue sarcoma in dogs.

Similar to human trials

By looking at multiple studies, researchers sometimes uncover information that could be missed in any of the smaller, individual studies.

The approach is uncommon in veterinary research, but likely to be used more as evidence-based research practices increase in the field, according to Milovancev.

The findings are already influencing his own work. He said he's changing his design of future research to make it more similar to that of human trials.

"I'd like to do additional meta-analyses like this, as well, with the goal of further improving the quality of the science and the quality of care of our furry family members," Milovancev said.

The study was published recently in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology.

Image credit: iStock

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