Osteosarcoma and Immunotherapy

Updated: Oct 20

For dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma, even with surgery and chemotherapy, the median survival is typically less than 12 months. Cancer often ends up spreading, and we desperately need better ways to combat this disease.

Much research is needed to figure out how to prevent metastasis after surgery and chemotherapy.

Or better yet, we need a therapy that lets the dog keep his leg, avoid chemotherapy, and be cured. After all, many dogs are not a candidate for surgery for various reasons.

Now, it’s been known for decades that the dog’s immune system could play a major role in combating osteosarcoma and other forms of malignant sarcomas.

For example, vets have reported that canine osteosarcoma patients who experienced post-surgery infection (and activation of the immune system) enjoyed longer survival times.

What makes immunotherapy particularly attractive is that it gives some patients a chance at long-term survival compared to conventional treatments like chemotherapy.

At a recent scientific presentation, University of Pennsylvania Professor Dr. Nicki Mason - one of the leaders in veterinary cancer immunotherapy - described how thanks to immunotherapy, the word "cure" is now actually starting to be used by cancer researchers and oncologists.

When I was helping my dog fight osteosarcoma 4 years ago, I could find only one experimental immunotherapy in a clinical trial. And that trial had stopped enrolling new patients.