A new procedure to treat prostate cancer in dogs by harnessing recent advances in human cancer treatments has shown promising results for pioneering veterinary surgeons in the United States.

Bill Culp with police dog Kopper, who has been successfully treated with the new procedure.

The treatment is similar to a procedure in human medicine for treatment of non-cancerous prostate enlargement.

Known as prostatic transarterial embolisation, it is emerging as a minimally invasive alternative to other prostate cancer therapies.

CT and MRI scans are performed, allowing an assessment of the prostate tumour and associated blood supply. Once the blood supply has been mapped, the tumour is accessed minimally invasively (interventional radiology techniques) using fluoroscopic guidance (real time “x-rays”).

Catheters are placed and the blood supply to the tumour is identified. Material can then be injected into the blood vessels supplying the tumour, which causes a blockage of the vessels, thereby cutting off the blood supply and accompanying nutrients to the tumour. The size of the gland and tumour decrease as cells die from lack of blood supply.

A leading veterinary surgeon in the field is Bill Culp of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. His procedure has been performed on six dogs to date and early results have been promising. One recipient of Dr Culp’s procedure is Kopper, a 14-year-old Belgian Malinois from Tennessee. A former police dog, Kopper was assessed by Dr Culp and Carrie Palm, a veterinary nephrologist/urologist at UC Davis.

CT and MRI images of Kopper’s tumour showed signs consistent with a cancerous prostatic carcinoma. The images also showed appropriate vasculature for the embolisation procedure, meaning Kopper was a good candidate for the procedure.

Dr Culp, along with a colleague who performs similar procedures on humans, Craig Glaiberman, successfully performed Kopper’s procedure and the dog returned home to Tennessee within a few days.
Dr Culp worked with Kopper’s local veterinary surgeon for his recheck exam to ensure his recovery was uneventful. To date, Kopper’s prostate has decreased in size and he has been doing well.

The hope for Kopper and all dogs undergoing this minimally invasive treatment is a decrease in tumour size will improve the quality and length of life for dogs with prostate cancer.
 Dr Culp continues this clinical trial.

Recruitment of more dogs with naturally occurring prostate cancer is needed to help evaluate the effectiveness of prostatic transarterial embolisation as an accepted standard of care procedure.

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