Bone cancer – questions

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    Hi Lena,

    Quick backstory. Our 4 1/2 year old English Bulldog had been limping around since late October. Our Vet initially diagnosed it as a possible torn tendon or ligament. Xrays were clear in October. We did NSAIDs (Rimadyl) and rest for a couple weeks. No change. So then we did a steroid injection in the shoulder. No change. He had good days where he would walk around on it and other days where he wouldnt put any weight on it. We tried one more time in Mid December to have another steroid injection. Again no change. So our Vet recommended that we go see an ortho specialist.

    We got in finally to see the specialist this past Thursday (the 19th). He noted that he could see significant swelling in the shoulder and took xrays again. He came back, and much to our surprise, told us that he suspected it to be bone cancer in his shoulder blade right at the shoulder joint based on the deterioration in the xrays. We were completely caught off guard and hadnt even given thought to the idea that he might have cancer. We went home Thursday night and did some research and thinking, and we went back in yesterday and had x-rays of his chest cavity. Fortunately, it appears that there has not as of yet been any tumors metastasized into the lungs yet.

    I understand that in this instance, amputation is the best course of action. I discussed with the specialist and the potential concern based on where the cancer is located, is whether they can get all of the affected area out with clean margins. He noted that he thought that would be his biggest concern, that the cancer would reoccur in the same area. We are fortunate to live in Colorado and be only an hour from Colorado State University, one of the best Veterinary schools and teaching hospitals in the country. We are scheduled to get up there this week to meet with one of their surgical oncologists to discuss the diagnosis and potential treatment. I believe we’ll be able to do the surgery there for a more affordable cost for us than we are able to find anywhere else. Additionally, he would be eligible for the chemotherapy clinical trial they have, which would seem to be a good fit for us.

    My questions stem mostly from thoughts on supplements. We would like to treat him with a combination of holistic and Western treatments. Ive done extensive research over the past several days, and have come up with lots of ideas and thoughts on holistic ideas. Ive picked up some of the SanSheDan and we’ve started giving that to him (we put it on his food…i thought this would be easier than trying to squirt it in his mouth). Ive also ordered both the Xhu Fu Zhu Yu Tang and the Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Is it ok/wise to begin giving these to him even though he doesnt present yet with any metastasis in the lungs? I guess, not having the amputation and biopsy yet, theres still a chance it could be a fibrosarcoma or chondrosarcoma with less of a chance of metastases. We’ve also ordered the Artemisinin and will start him on that as soon as it arrives this week.

    In addition to these, we’ve change his diet to a high protein, grain free diet. We’re using Instinct both dry and canned food, generally the canned in the morning and dry in the evening. We’ve also started him on some Algal-900 DHA and Fish Oil to provide him with more Omega-3 fatty acids, as there is some good research on this being helpful in the diet. We’ve also ordered some of Berte’s Immune Blend ( as a supplement because it contains vitamin C, bioflavonoids, vitamin E, selenium, l-glutamine and l-arginine , digestive enzymes, pancreatin, acidophilus, B complex, and vitamins A & D.

    We’re also going to start looking for a holistic vet that is local here in Denver to begin working with. Having said all that (sorry for how long it is!) i have a few questions i thought you might be able to answer:

    1. Do you foresee any problems with combining any/all of these supplements/herbals together? We will be sure to introduce them to him one or two at a time and monitor him to see his response.

    2. Are there any additional supplements or herbals you would recommend?

    3. What are your thoughts on bisphosphonates? Would it be worth it to have him treated with these until we’re able to have his amputation done? He’s in quite a bit of pain some days and we’ve been prescribed some Morphine ER for him, but I dont like him being on the Morphine.

    4. Any other thoughts you might have for us would be much appreciated! Its still been difficult for us to deal with this, but I think Ive found that the best thing to do is to do our research and be as prepared as possible.



    Hi Ajmax,

    I hope it isn’t osteosarcoma. It is an unusually location for it but is a possibility.

    I have used all the Chinese herbals you mention together. I usually do not use all of them if there are not lung mets but also am usually doing acupuncture with the animals I treat. It might be very helpful to find a holistic vet who can take a look at him and help come up with the best protocol that is specific. Bulldogs tend to be damp and if he is the herbals like Si Miao San and/or Hoxsey make be more appropriate for him however they will be able to determine that much better by seeing him.

    I have had dogs I treat get treatments with pamidronate and it seems to help at least for awhile and they seem to tolerate it very well. It is a fairly new treatment but if amputation is not an option that and radiation might be good options. The best pain management I have seen for osteo is a combo of radiation, pamidronate, gabapentin, tramodol and a NSAID (like Rimadyl). I don’t like morphine long term because of the side effects. Please read the warning about artemisinin and radiation.

    You are doing a lot for him. He is a lucky guy to have people who care about him so much!

    My best advice would be to find a holistic vet to work with. Not only are they going to be able to work with you on protocol but they can also change that protocol if it needs to be changed as you go through treatment with him. In addition they may be able to do acupuncture with him, which I highly recommend. If you haven’t seen my article on finding one here it is

    best wishes,



    Thanks for the follow up. I will continue to give him the SanSheDan, but will hold off on the other two Chinese herbals until consulting with a holistic vet.

    I had not seen anything online about pamidronate. Ill inquire with our vet about this as an option. Radiation isnt going to be an option for us because its going to be too costly I believe. We are in agreement that we would like to do the amputation, assuming that we can get comfort from a doctor that they feel comfortable in being able to fully excise the tumor. But, in reality, we’re probably not going to be able to have the surgery scheduled for another week or two. He’s in quite a bit of discomfort in the near term, so we’re trying to find ways to keep him as comfortable as possible until then. The Tramadol doesnt seem to help him get through the night, so I think we’re going to have to continue with the Morphine once a day (at night) for the next week or so.

    Ill update as things progress.


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