A story of a dog with mesothelioma could help doctors identify the cancer earlier in humans as well as canines.
The case of a dog with mesothelioma out of Japan is inspiring in more ways than one. Surgery successfully removed the pup’s cancer with no signs of recurrence, and doctors may use the case as an example to identify biomarkers and diagnose humans earlier.
Trying to Diagnose Mesothelioma Earlier
Mesothelioma is one of the rarest cancers in the world. Approximately 2,500 people in the U.S. each year receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. The malignancy forms when cells in the mesothelial tissue linings mutate.
One of the challenges with mesothelioma is patients are often diagnosed after tumors have spread beyond the point where surgery is an option. Mesothelioma primarily forms in one of two linings: the pleura (lining of the lungs); or the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen). Both are in close proximity to vital organs, such as the lungs, intestines, kidneys and more.
Mesothelioma patients are usually diagnosed in stage 3 or stage 4 because their symptoms aren’t recognized as signs of mesothelioma. The cancer’s main symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, loss of appetite and chest pain, which can be signs of pneumonia or other common respiratory conditions. Since doctors often misdiagnose patients at first, patients don’t undergo a biopsy until their symptoms persist and the tumors have spread.
Consistent late diagnosis is the main reason why mesothelioma survival rates are low. The 5-year survival rate is approximately 11%, and the average survival is 12-16 months. The majority of patients receive chemotherapy or immunotherapy for mesothelioma.
A few studies have reported on cases of dogs with mesothelioma. One study calculated the 1-year survival rate as 22% for canines with this disease.
Dog Receives Surgery for Localized Mesothelioma
The dog, a 9-year-old male, had a localized form of pleural mesothelioma, which forms in the pleura. During the biopsy, doctors found the proteins calretinin and Wilms’ tumor gene 1, both of which are biomarkers for pleural mesothelioma, in the dog’s tissue samples.
This case is evidence that overexpression of these two markers in mesothelial cells is a sign of mesothelioma.
Another hopeful part of the story is the pup received surgery to remove the cancer. As of 11 months following the operation, there was no recurrence or metastasis of the cancer, meaning it had not returned.
Study authors said this was “the first report of localized mesothelioma in a dog without metastasis and highlights the value of mesothelial markers for an accurate diagnosis.”
Sources & Author
- Localized pleural mesothelioma in a dog. Journal of Comparative Pathology. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37922825/. Accessed: 11/16/2023.
- Clinical presentation, treatment and outcome of canine malignant mesothelioma: A retrospective study of 34 cases. Veterinary and Comparative Oncology. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34647420/. Accessed: 11/16/2023.
Sources & Author