All of the staff, from the front desk to the nurses to the doctors, not only took care of my Lex, but they also took care of me - and for that I am grateful!
The bodies immune system is designed to recognize “self” which entails normal red cells, white cells and all other cells we are born with vs. “not self”, which entails viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc. The problem lies in that cancer originates from “self” which results often in the immune system overlooking it. The ability of the immune system to protect against tumor development and to attack malignant cells once they arise has been recognized for more than 50 years. Therapies designed to stimulate the immune system to recognize cancer a “foreign” and called Immunotherapy. Most immunotherapies are designed to stimulate the immune system. The ideal cancer immunotherapy agent should be able to discriminate between cancer and normal cells (specificity), be potent enough to kill small or large numbers of tumor cells (sensitivity), and lastly be able to prevent recurrence of the tumor (durability). An example include the canine melanoma vaccine which is the first commercially available vaccine for the treatment of canine melanoma. This innovative DNA-based cancer vaccine has significantly improved life spans, even in dogs with melanoma. Since receiving full USDA approval in 2009, ONCEPT, produced by Merial, has shown to be a safe and effective adjunct therapy for dogs with canine melanoma. Another immunotherapy strategy is to remove a suppressing affect some cancers have on the immune system. An example of this is called low dose therapy (metronomic therapy) which involves daily oral medications which remove a immune system cell called T-regulatory cell from the circulation. This T regulatory cell is stimulated by cancer and then, in turn, down regulates the immune system thereby allowing cancer to evade detection.
The Oncology Department is pleased to now offer Immunocidin as a treatment option for canine patients with mammary cancer. Immunocidin is a type of immunotherapy treatment that utilizes a specific, non-infectious portion of Mycobacteria to stimulate the immune system. Mycobacteria is a type of bacteria that has been shown to be active against a variety of tumors. Immunocidin is a mixture of the cell wall portion of Mycobacteria that has been modified, thus it cannot cause an infection and the chance of an allergic reaction is minimal. It does, however, retain the anti-tumor activity by regulating the immune system to produce mediators with anticancer effects. Traditionally, this treatment is administered directly into the tumor. Sedation or anesthesia may be required for treatment as the injection may cause some discomfort. Recent data presented at the Veterinary Cancer Society Meetings revealed positive results when Immunocidin was used in patients after surgical removal of their tumors.