Radiation treatments give a Golden Retriever happy years

In the summer of 2008, while fishing near Juneau, Alaska, Dave and Eddylee Scott found a lump on the top of their 7-year old Golden Retriever’s head. They made a quick call back home to their veterinarian, Dr. Lance Campbell (’99 DVM), who advised them to take “Cassie” to a clinic in Juneau and have the lump removed. The Southeast Alaska Animal Medical Center removed the tumor—a benign multilobular tumor of the bone—but within 3 weeks the tumor returned.

On the advice of Dr. Campbell, they traveled to Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Pullman.  An MRI showed the tumor was growing from Cassie’s skull and pressing on her brain. Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, a board certified veterinary oncologist, organized a treatment plan for Cassie in conjunction with the neurology service and radiation oncology.

After seven hours of surgery, and a course of radiation therapy that included 20 daily sessions, Cassie spent 10 months enjoying life with Dave and Eddylee as they boated and played golf. Her follow-up required only periodic exams.

The following June, an MRI revealed regrowth of the mass. With all standard options exhausted, Cassie required a creative plan for further treatment. Following three more doses of radiation, she received a radioactive drug (radiopharmaceutical) to deliver a strong dose of radiation directly to the tumor through her bloodstream in August 2009. She was the first dog in Washington to ever receive this type of drug. Cassie began a Palladia (toceranib phosphate) regimen, a new cancer drug therapy, and pamidronate, an osteoporosis treatment, in September 2009. These new therapies combined to keep her symptom-free and enjoying life.

“Cassie is a great dog owned by a fantastic couple,” said Dr. Bryan. “Our hope here was that we can provide palliative care and maintain her quality of life.”

In 2010, Cassie finally lost her nearly 2-year battle with cancer.

“Our goal all along was to keep her happy and comfortable,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, WSU veterinary oncologist. “She broke new ground that will benefit future dogs in Washington, wagging her tail the whole time.”

The Scotts are grateful clients of the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and have helped to raise over $20,000 for the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. To read more about Cassie, visit our Pet Memorial website.