Bladder Cancer in dogs

Causes and Risk Factors

The most common form of canine cancer of the bladder and urinary tract is called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), also known as urothelial carcinoma (UC). This disease affects the bladder, urethra, and kidneys of male and female dogs as well as the prostate of males. TCC accounts for an estimated 1-2% of all cancer cases diagnosed in dogs, equaling approximately 70,000 dogs this year alone. It can affect any breed of dog but certain breeds, including Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, Airdales, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Wire Hair Fox Terriers and Beagles are at a higher risk.

Diagnosis and treatment

Traditionally, diagnosis has been challenging since symptoms may be similar to more common urinary tract disorders, including benign growths in the bladder, bladder infection, bladder stones or bladder
inflammation. Based on symptoms alone, most veterinarians first treat with repeated cycles of antibiotics in hopes of treating any non-malignant causes. While this may provide temporary relief, the underlying cancer is still enlarging and potentially spreading across the bladder wall and into underlying muscle. At the time of cancer diagnosis, over 90% of TCC cases are already intermediate to high grade invasive tumors. 

To determine if a patient does have cancer, a veterinarian often uses imaging tests like ultrasounds to confirm the presence of tumor(s). In most cases, cells from the tumor are also needed to determine whether the tumor is actually malignant TCC. To access tumor cells, a vet can either perform an invasive biopsy, which is a surgical procedure to remove a tumor sample, or, in the case of bladder cancer, has the option to perform a special type of urine test. This test provides a cost effective, non-invasive way to diagnosis canine TCC in early stage of disease progression.

Currently, treatment of TCC typically includes surgery to remove the tumor(s), radiation, chemotherapy or combination treatments. Surgical removal of tumors is usually only considered if the TCC has not spread beyond the bladder. Radiation therapy can be challenging and can lead to harmful complications including a scarred, shrunken bladder, and irritation to surrounding organs. When pursuing medicine-based therapy, two approaches are most commonly taken; a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or chemotherapy. 

Targeted therapy is a promising option for bladder cancer treatment. A targeted therapy is a drug which specifically blocks or changes a certain biological process in a cell. A single mutation in a gene called BRAF is present in about 85% of confirmed cases of canine TCC. Since mutations cause changes in how cells work, these drugs work to block the changes that make cancer cells multiply out of control.

Humans share the V600E-BRAF mutation with canines, and multiple therapeutics have been developed to treat BRAF positive human cancers, with recent research providing guidance on how these insights can transfer to canine disease. FidoCure can help provide personalized guidance and access to advanced therapies for this type of cancer. 

Learn more about how FidoCure can help you and your vet understand your dog's bladder cancer as well provide advanced treatment options specifically for bladder cancer

DISCLAIMER: FidoCure™ is a leader in oncology research for dogs, and our team is committed to the breakthroughs in cancer biology to evolve canine cancer care, with each patient improving the outcomes for all future canine cancer patients. We use our best efforts to inform the veterinarian, who then decides which option is best for their patient. The therapies that veterinarians may prescribe and order from compounding pharmacies after receiving genetic test results from FidoCure, may constitute extra-label uses of those drugs. FidoCure is continuing to gather research data in support of novel oncology therapeutics in dogs.

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