Mammary cancer in dogs and cats – holistic approaches

I’ve gotten many requests to write something about mammary cancer. I guess I’ve been hesitant both because I feel like compared to some of the other cancers, I haven’t treated a lot of it, and my first cat Millie died of it. It was a horrible death with an infected oozing tumor and her not being able to breath. When I found the tumor it was smaller than a pea but when we tried to remove it her oxygen fell and we had to quickly pull her out of anesthesia and leave the tumor. It was already in her lungs. I was just finishing vet school and elected to treat her with steroid injections and later also antibiotics. She made it for the drive back to Seattle but passed away within a month of me moving back home, just three months after the lump appeared.

This cancer is very preventable with early spaying of females. Animals spayed before their first heat have on a 0.6% chance of getting mammary cancer, after the first heat it jumps to 6%, and after the second 26% or higher as the number of heats before spay increases.

In cats, this cancer is highly aggressive, quickly spreads to the lungs, and most cats die from lung involvement within three months of diagnosis. Most tumors in cats are malignant but occasionally you get a benign one.

In dogs we see a few types of tumors. Many are benign and removal is curative. Of the cancerous ones, some are more aggressive than others with local occurrance and lung spread as issues. Some are very low grade and there is minimal chance of spread. It is not uncommon especially in unsprayed females to see multiple tumors in which case sometimes the whole mammary chain is removed.

I do have a lovely little Rottweiler patient, Ella, who had a less aggressive form of mammary cancer who has been in complete remission for over two years. The tumor was removed, a little Hoxsey, acupuncture, and a loving dog mom to take care of her and love her!

So first let’s talk about dogs. How do I approach this cancer

  1. I recommend removing the tumor if possible and the lungs are clear. These are inflammatory tumors, they ulcerate, they bleed, they spread to the lungs. Get rid of it before it does.
  2. Acupuncture – I can’t say enough about acupuncture’s ability to hold, slow, and stop cancer and help animals feel better.
  3. Hoxsey like formula – This formula is made for tumors like this, which are angry and inflammatory. These dogs often have heat signs and run hot.
  4. Lung protection – if this is a very low grade tumor with very low chance of spread I stop here. Anything else gets herbs to prevent spread to the lungs. See Breathing Through Cancer
  5. Artemisinin has a place for these tumors. It has actually been studied in humans with breast cancer and shows good results.

Cats. I’m going to be honest, I have never had a cat come to me with mammary cancer. I think so many of our cats are spayed early in Seattle, we just don’t see much of it.

However if I was treating a cat, my primary objective would be lung protection. I would also highly consider using Hoxsey like formula if the tumor could not be removed. In cats, I think an oncologist consult might be worth while especially since this cancer is so fast to spread. If the tumor can not be removed, and chemotherapy is not an option, talk to your vet about steroids and pain management.

As with all advice offered on this website please check in with your animal’s primary veterinarian before using any of these herbals and supplements.

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

2 Responses to “Mammary cancer in dogs and cats – holistic approaches”

  1. Nan Says:

    My breed golden recently passed of mammary ca. It was extremely aggressive and reoccured and quickly was in her lungs. ….however with a her2 vacine and artemisinin I was able to enjoy a GOOD 6 months with her once on her lungs.

  2. Lena Says:

    I’m so sorry about your girl Nan. I’m glad you got some extra time with her. Was she part of a study to receive the vaccine or is it commercially available now? I did not realize they were using it for mammary cancer in dogs. If it helps her that is great information – thank you for sharing.