Transitional Cell Carcinoma – holistic and integrative medicine to support peeing

A dog named Rooney started it all. Path With Paws would not exist without Rooney, this book would not exist and I don’t know if I would have begun by quest into treating animals with cancer without Rooney. See Rooney’s wisdom.

Rooney had transitional cell carcinoma, I was new to acupuncture having just got my certification, knew a little about herbs but not much, and was excited to have a new patient to treat and of course a bit nervous about making that first house call. Rooney had been getting acupuncture for a couple months from another veterinary acupuncturist who had suddenly passed away and so I was called in to take over. I expected to meet a dog on death’s doorstep instead I meet a happy fluffy chow mix full of life. Rooney went on to live for almost three years with transitional cell carcinoma. And I realized that cancer was really not a death sentence for Rooney but just another bump along the road of life.

In Rooney’s case we combined weekly acupuncture with monthly chemotherapy. This worked well for Rooney. Since gaining the herb knowledge I now have I would have probably also done some herbal work with Rooney and I have found that usually with herbal work we do not need to do the acupuncture every week. So here are some thoughts on TCC.

Unfortunately Traditional Cell carcinoma almost always occurs at the trigone of the bladder where the urethra exits the bladder and the ureters enter the bladder. Because of this surgery to remove the tumor is almost always not an option. While it is a slower cancer to spread, the location of the tumor makes it so that it quickly obstructs the urethra making it so a dog can not pee.

  • Peeing is the most important. In Rooney’s case her people choose to put in a port to drain her urine because she could not pee when she was diagnosed. This can be a difficult decision. For most of Rooney’s illness she did not need the port and could pee on her own within a month of starting chemotherapy and acupuncture. It is a big surgery for a cancer that often takes animals within months. However the reason most dogs are euthanized is that they can’t pee. I don’t think it is the right option for every dog, especially a dog who is very sick or old but something to consider if they can’t pee. It is a lot of care on the part of the humans involved. Your dog will be dependent on you draining the port three times a day if they can not pee on their own. It is a big decision.
  • Talk to an oncologist – this disease can sometimes be successfully treated with chemotherapy. Usually there is not a cure, but chemotherapy can keep things in check in some dogs. Chemotherapy is not the right option for every dog but get all your facts and then make the decision that is right for your companion.
  • Piroxicam is a drug similar to rimadyl that can slow TCC’s progression. Usually there are few side effects and a great improvement in quality of life at least for a short time. I highly recommend talking to your vet about using this drug.
  • Acupuncture – I can not say enough about acupuncture for this form of cancer. It is a safe and effective treatment and if harsher drugs like some of the chemotherapeutics are used it can help with side effects also.

In all truth I have not had a transitional cell carcinoma to treat since Rooney. However these are some of the herbal treatments that are widely used in our community and I would reach for if I did.

  1. Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang is one of the best herbals for both TTC, prostate and kidney tumors. It can slow the growth of tumors in the lower abdomen.
  2. Vit A/D in high doses may be a good option for this cancer if you are working with a holistic vet. These high dose therapies can hurt or destroy the kidneys so make sure you have a vet on board that can help make sure this doesn’t happen.
  3. Artemisinin can help to slow this and many other cancers down.
  4. Xiao Chai Hu Tang can also be a good herbal for slowing this type of cancer. In addition this formula can help with some of the side effects of chemotherapy and/or piroxicam.

As always please check with your animal’s regular vet before using this formula.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs.

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