New injection method proves to be successful

Cancer treatment successful in dogs

UTRECHT, Tuesday

Researchers at the University of Utrecht have successfully used a new method to treat cancers in dogs and cats.

Research primary investigator Jolle Kirpensteijn expects that the same method can be used in humans within the next 6 months. The new method had never been used anywhere else in the world.

The method revolves around the injection of small radioactive balls directly into the tumor, the so called holmium therapy. The radioactive balls are being injected using a needle after which the tumor is being radiated from the inside out. The major advantage is that there is minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.


Currently, Kirpensteijn has treated six dogs and cats. A number of tumors had noticeably shrunk in size after treatment while others had completely disappeared. Requisites are that the tumor is easily reachable and that there are no alternative treatment options.

As an example Kirpensteijn mentions a cat with a "plaveiselcarcinoom", a very serious form of skin cancer, in its mouth: "The tongue and the skin underneath it were affected. An operation was not feasible, and therefore we chose the holmium therapy. Currently, the patient is doing well and the tumor has disappeared. We have also treated a cat with a large melanoma, another type of skin cancer, in its neck. After injection the size of the tumor has spectacularly reduced.

Upcoming Friday, Jolle Kirpenstein will have his lecture as professor in the department of veterinary medicine of companion animals at the University of Utrecht. In it he will advocate the healthy- equivalence principle. This principle works on the idea that in medicine different areas should work together closely to prevent and treat diseases which occur in different species, including humans.

"Tumors in companion animals typically behave in a similar fashion as tumors in humans. In general treatments are similar as well. Because, companion animals often have spontaneous cancer types which are very similar to those seen in humans it is very important to collaborate in these areas. It often provides more insight than research on laboratory animals. Research on dogs and cats is essential to cure cancers in humans" according to Kirpensteijn.

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