There are few words feared more in the English language than the word “cancer.”
And when it’s a furry family member who’s been given this diagnosis … somehow, the inevitable outcome seems even more horrifying.
More so when we are aware … and most people are aware these days … that the current standard of care is often far worse than the disease itself.
What has this innocent creature done to deserve this?
And so the questions begin. Most importantly — what do we do now?
The Oncology Roller Coaster
In most cases, once your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, he’s referred to an oncologist.
From this point on, for you as the owner … it’s as if any decision-making ability you might have had (or perhaps should have) has been removed.
The oncologist now calls the shots. Your dog is on the medico-veterinary roller coaster; the medical merry-go-round.
And in far too many instances, that ride is one of unimaginable horror.
You watch on as your beloved family member is taken from a life filled with innocence and joy … to one of relentless torture.
Under the skilled guidance of the cancer professional, your helpless dog is poisoned by chemotherapy … and/or burnt by radiotherapy until death ensues.
A slow death, where your dog … with his immune system destroyed and all will to live taken away by nausea and pain … becomes a walking skeleton. Until finally, death is the only option … the inevitable outcome.
Question Every Treatment
Before committing or submitting any dog to the current standard of care … as meted out by the majority of veterinary oncologists … it’s vital that we question the validity of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Particularly in the treatment of metastatic cancer.
Time and again, well-meaning people with implicit trust in their oncologist … have killed their dogs with these cruel treatments.
Many will go back and permit further treatment, in the vain hope of saving their dog … even though the first treatments have caused their dog’s body to shut down.
Following this further treatment, they have the agonizing experience of watching the terrible decline of their dog into an inevitable death.
What You Should Ask The Oncologist
Given the horrifying possibilities held by both chemo and radiotherapy (but most particularly chemotherapy) …
… it’s vital to question your veterinary professionals before allowing these therapies on your dog.
No matter how qualified your veterinary specialists are, they do not have all the answers. It is vital you interrogate them.
If your dog has cancer … you need to know what your oncologist knows about this particular cancer.
If the oncologist is recommending a regime of chemotherapy or radiotherapy … you need to know about the likely outcome as a result of these recommended therapies.
In no particular order … you need answers to the following interrelated and essential questions:
“Will the treatment you’re proposing lengthen my dog’s life?”
“Is this treatment likely to result in complete remission?”
“Will the treatment you’re proposing cause side effects? If so, what will they be and how long will they last?”
“How dangerous is this regime? What is the likelihood it will actually shorten my dog’s life or even kill my dog?”
“What will my dog’s quality of life be during treatment? What about after the treatment?”
“If my dog goes into remission and survives, what is the likelihood of permanent damage, and if so … what will that look like?”
“What will happen if we do nothing?”
Nutrition: You’re On Your Own
In most cases it’s worse than useless to ask an oncologist about nutrition. The answer will almost always be ill-informed, and in general, be in your dog’s worst interests.
Oncologists have little to no training when it comes to the relationship between nutrition and cancer. Any training they do have is that nutrition has no bearing on the cause of cancer or the course of the disease.
In relation to nutrition, their main concern is to treat and prevent cancer cachexia. This is the wasting syndrome seen in the majority of metastatic cancer patients as they slowly starve to death during treatment.
In these cases, the oncologist’s training is to recommend a program of nutrition based on soluble carbohydrates (sugar!).
This sugar-based program is the surefire way to encourage cancer growth and metastasis. It feeds the cancer, hastening the growth and progression of the cancer. It accelerates cancer cachexia, and death.
Most oncologists have also been taught that antioxidant and Omega-3 fatty acid supplements will interfere with the effectiveness of the chemo or radiotherapy.
In short, their response to questions about nutrition will almost always be 100% negative … and mostly wrong.
Any nutritional advice they do provide will do far more harm than good. So don’t ask!
The Likely Outcome
My strongest recommendation is …
Before you allow any round of chemotherapy or radiotherapy on your dog … you must be aware of the typical outcome.
This is especially important if these modalities are to be used without any lifestyle and nutritional improvement. (These include metabolic therapies like fasting, calorie restriction or the ketogenic diet.)
The first piece of information to ask for is whether the chemotherapy is likely to result in a full cure … a total return to normality.
In other words, will this treatment destroy every one of the diagnosed cancer cells in your dog’s body?
If there is any chance that the answer to that question is no … then it’s imperative you fully understand that the most likely outcome will not be good – to say the least.
In all likelihood, there will be a return of cancer.
But in a far more AGGRESSIVE form.
When Cancer Returns …
The problem is that … even when these scientifically researched, cytotoxic treatments (poisons) give the appearance of success, they result – almost inevitably – in cancer’s return.
This mostly happens in a matter of months.
And when this cancer in its new format makes its obnoxious reappearance, it is always more malignant, more aggressive and far less responsive to chemotherapy than the horror it replaced.
It will now, almost certainly, have spread throughout the body … into areas like the bone, lung, brain, liver and so on.
Once cancer has spread (metastasized) throughout the body, it will unavoidably result in the patient’s death … generally sooner rather than later.
And sadly, the end is never pretty.
The patient’s quality of life will have reached an all-time and appalling low.
And even more sadly, when pressed, our oncologists will admit that all of this is expected and accepted (by them) … along with the inevitable decline, suffering and death of the patient.
Unfortunately, this information is rarely – if ever – disclosed to the dog’s owner or caregiver.
An Important Study
Our oncologists also need to (be aware of and) disclose to pet owners the results of a study released in 2004.
Although this study is now 16 years old and related to humans, it is as relevant today (for both animals and humans) as it was when first published.
This study revealed that chemotherapy produced no significant benefit in the vast majority of cancers that oncologists (for humans) deal with on a daily basis.
The study reported on the five-year survival benefit attributed solely to the use of cytotoxic drugs (chemotherapy). It looked at 22 major adult human malignancies.
The authors found …
The use of chemotherapeutic drugs made a contribution to the 5-year survival rate (of Australian adults) of just …
In the USA, the survival rate was even less …
The authors concluded that there is an urgent need for a rigorous evaluation of chemotherapy in terms of its cost-effectiveness and its impact on the patient’s quality of life.
Of course no such evaluation has ever been undertaken.
Avoiding The Truth
How many oncologists would dare speak this truth while looking in the face of someone with a dog suffering with cancer?
And as I mentioned earlier …
Will the oncologist explain that the side effects of these poisons are almost always worse than the disease itself?
Will they explain that this makes the drug worse than useless?
Finally, it should also be noted that these drugs are generally HUGELY expensive.
It’s vital that you take these likelihoods into account when making decisions about your dog’s cancer treatment. Remember this information when you’re faced with treatment regimes proposed by veterinarians or veterinary oncologists.
What’s The Alternative?
So, now the question arises, what about the alternatives?
Do valid alternative treatments exist, and if they do … what are they and how useful are they?
The good news is, there is now a huge body of research confirming that cancer …
- Is not a purely genetic disease, with purely genetic origins
- Is in fact a disease with metabolic origins
- And it’s a disease where cancer cells have metabolic vulnerabilities
These metabolic vulnerabilities give rise to valid and powerful treatments that will literally starve and kill cancer cells … while enhancing the patient’s health and quality of life.
And the even better news is that these treatments may be used in conjunction with the current standard of care. In the popular vernacular, we can “have a bet each way.”
We can use treatments such as calorie restriction, fasting and the ketogenic diet in conjunction with chemo and radiotherapy.
What we now know is that these therapies are actually protective against both chemo and radiotherapy.
There is evidence that ketones in particular almost certainly enhance the cancer killing power of these two modalities.
What about supplements such as selenium, fish oil, turmeric and so on? How valid are these?
Based on my experience – and on theoretical grounds, together with a number of studies that have been performed …
To stop these when performing radio- and chemotherapy is not only unnecessary … it may in fact do more harm than good.
The only case where cessation of “blood thinning” supplements (such as fish oil and turmeric) is definitely required is when surgery is used. In that case the importance of healthy blood clotting is paramount.
What we need is a balanced understanding of the virtues (not too many) and the drawbacks (enormous and frightening) of the current standard of care.
Alongside this, we need to understand the value we must place on the metabolic (starving) therapies.
Too Many Unknowns
The biggest problem we face is that, for far too many forms of cancer …
… we don’t have enough information on which to base definitive recommendations.
It’s still a huge guessing game.
In the end, however, it’s vital you understand this.
No matter what, the decision about the choice of modalities used on your dog must remain with YOU.
And you’ll make that decision based on the best advice available to you.
To help that decision-making, particularly whether ot not to use the metabolic therapies … a good place to start is my book Pointing The Bone At Cancer.