HOUSTON - It’s good news for dog owners who have concerns about skin tumors on their pooch. A new FDA-approved drug claims to cure most mast cell tumors, in some cases with only a single injection.
"They recommended amputation of his toe."
That would have been the fate for Janette Schulze's dog, King Louis, if they went through with traditional treatments for a mast cell tumor after she noticed a bump on his foot last August.
Janette had already been down this road before, having to make the heartbreaking decision to put down her Yorkie, Elli, two years ago after her mast cell tumor came back. At that time, surgery was the only option available, and due to how aggressive the procedure needed to be to remove the cancerous cells, it was not recommended by Elli’s doctor.
"Her doctor basically said, 'You know we can’t remove this. In order to get all of the cancer cells, we would have to remove about all of her, like all the skin on her abdomen area."
Janette was determined to avoid the same outcome with King Louis. After a lot of research, Janette came across a new, less invasive treatment called Stelfonta. An injectable drug for mast cell tumors. She found one of the few veterinarians in the Greater Houston area that offered the drug.
"Recovery for a normal surgery is about two weeks, so we say 10 to 14 days, and then after that you still got to take out stitches, pretty much. For Stelfonta about a week into the process but about 28, 25 to 30 days after the injection it’s healed up and 16 days later, it’s almost completely back to normal," said Dr. Darleen Nath, owner of Lakeside Veterinary Care.
Dr. Nath decided to offer the breakthrough drug because she wanted to give her patients a less invasive option, and believes that this drug will soon replace a majority of mast cell tumor surgeries.
"There is no endotracheal tube, the recovery period is so fast, there’s no stitches involved. Typically, if it’s on a leg, for example, they’re swollen for a few days but they would be even with surgery, and then usually like a week later they are good to go," said Dr. Nath.
King Louis became Dr. Nath’s first patient to try Stelfonta. He received the injection last October, and showed wonderful progress, as the tumor dried up and fell off, leaving healthy tissue behind that healed.
Nearly six months later, King Louis shows no signs of regrowth. Much to his owner’s delight, "He’s doing amazing, and we couldn’t even tell he has anything on his foot," said Janette. "It’s just, it’s a blessing, it’s a blessing for sure."
Dr. Nath has since worked on a handful of patients and continues to have success with the drug. Saying it’s perfect for areas that would be hard to reach, and cuts down amputations.
Dr. Nath tells FOX 26 that no matter what treatment you decide is best for your dog, the key is early detection. You can do that by keeping up with all of your veterinary appointments.