Saturday, December 17, 2016
Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Warts, Cancer Immunotherapy, and more ...
Papillomas, also referred to as warts, are generally harmless. The biggest danger is confusing them for something more serious. That's why making assumptions without a confirmation is never a good idea. Jasmine had a couple of confirmed papillomas, they didn't bother her and didn't cause any issues whatsoever. Cookie has couple of bumps that look like warts at first sight but turns out those are skin tags.
Papillomas, or warts, are caused by a viral infection. They usually go away on their own as the immune system responds and takes care of it. There are times, though when veterinary treatment is needed. In rare cases, warts can turn into cancerous tumors. If a wart sticks around for longer than three to five months, it should be treated.
Sometimes, the sheer volume and location can be a problem.
Unlike skin tags, papillomas can be contagious to other dogs.
Read Dr. Coates' overview of warts here.
Some concepts in veterinary medicine are closer to my heart than others. Immunotherapy is one of those that resonate with me and makes sense to my logic. Whether it's for allergies, cancer, or anything else under the sun where the immune system should be involved in the cure. In theory, a healthy, strong immune system should be able to tackle anything that gets thrown at it, be it infections or cancers. With cancer, the problem isn't that some cells get messed up. The problem is when they don't get destroyed and removed.
Radiation and chemotherapy attack cells of similar characteristics, such as fast-dividing cells. But cancer cells aren't the only ones that divide fast. There are many healthy cells which need to do that for the body to function, such as cells in the gastrointestinal tract, blood cells, skin cells, and other. The main problem with chemotherapy is that it isn't discriminate enough.
On the other hand, antibodies, for example, are highly discriminate.
Cancer immunotherapy works in a number of ways. Vaccines used in cancer treatment work on the same principle than those used to prevent infectious diseases, except that they function as a cure rather than prevention.
Then there are treatments that simply "wake up" the immune system to notice what's going on and to do something about it.
Read Dr. Dodds' review of cancer immunotherapy in dogs here.
Veterinary ECC Small Talk podcasts are meant for veterinarians but I love listening to them. Some of the topics are beyond the realm of information that can be of any use to a dog owner but some of it, I believe, is just relevant to me as to a veterinarian. I found the podcast on nutritional management of acute pancreatitis very interesting and useful.
The latest episode deals with activated charcoal. I have activated charcoal in my dog first aid kit and I have used it a couple of times. Last time I gave it JD when I suspected that his neurological issues were s a bad reaction to his meds. I had to laugh, though, when I was talking to the vet and mentioned that I did that, she seemed quite concerned. "You gave him activated charcoal?" she asked. I said yes and explained I have it in my first-aid kit. She was very relieved, "Oh, good, I thought you might have given charcoal from a BBQ." Knowing the crazy stuff people sometimes do I don't really blame her for making sure that's not what I did. Though she should know me better.
To learn about the indications, pros, and cons of using activated charcoal, check out the podcast. And, of course, be aware that if you suspect actual poisoning, don't just use activated charcoal when you should be on your way to the emergency vet instead.
Posted by Jana Rade
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