If people are in an environment that gives them chrysotile or tremolite asbestos exposure, they often get asbestos mesothelioma or mesothelioma cancer. What about our trusted best friends, our pet dog? Would Rover, Rex or Lassie end up with the same mesothelioma diagnosis as its owners who were exposed to chrysotile asbestos?
The answer is yes, dogs can get canine asbestos mesothelioma, according to researchers at a hospital in France. They were collecting patient cases of mesothelioma caused by environmental asbestos exposure and ended up testing animals as well.
The patients lived in Corsica, France in the northeast, an area that was some distance away from an asbestos mine in Canari. Their patients were an average of 69 years old; there were eight men and six women. Mineral analysis of five patients who had medical procedures done showed 0.3 to 3.4 x 10(6) chrysotile asbestos fibers/gm dry tissue.
The patients also had high levels of tremolite asbestos (1.4 to 62 x 10(6) fibers/gram). Both chrysotile asbestos and tremolite asbestos fibers are linked to lung cancer and asbestos mesothelioma.
Similar types of chrysotile asbestos fibers and tremolite fibers were found in the pleural lining of the animals that had the same asbestos exposure. Dogs can get asbestos mesothelioma just like humans can.
This wasn’t the only study showing that human mesothelioma is quite similar to canine mesothelioma. Veterinarians reported in the Veterinary Pathology medical journal, “the clinical and morphological appearance of canine mesothelioma also may be associated with exposure to airborne fibers” (chrysotile asbestos or tremolite asbestos).
Canine Asbestos Mesothelioma Facts
Here are some asbestos mesothelioma in dogs facts:
- A dog with mesothelioma can have the condition start out with a single tumor, such as in the lungs or abdomen. Then it can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, just like in humans.
- A dog can end up with mesothelioma of the testicular tunica vaginalis, just like humans can. This part of the body is the scrotum.
- Malignant mesotheliomas of the tunica vaginalis testis are rare in dogs just as they are rare in humans.
- Asbestos mesothelioma treatment for dogs is similar to humans. If there’s one solid tumor, the veterinarian will try to remove it with a thoracotomy. Then chemotherapy will often be started. The chemotherapy drug given to dogs is usually carboplatin or cisplatin.
- Mesothelioma dogs sometimes have a better life expectancy than humans, but often it’s similar to humans.
What Types of Breeds Were the Mesothelioma Dogs?
Here’s a list of the mesothelioma dog breeds that were reported in the literature:
• German shepherd
• Golden Retriever
• Yorkshire terrier
• Scottish terrier
• Saint Bernard
• Siberian husky
• Irish setter
• Welsh Corgi
• Mixed breed
The youngest dog was a 7-week-old puppy that was diagnosed with canine malignant asbestos mesothelioma. It started out as peritoneal mesothelioma and then spread to the lymph nodes and went to the kidneys and the thorax. The veterinarians in South Africa suspected that the mesothelioma causes for this case were congenital; the bitch had asbestos exposure.
Just like in humans, radionuclide injury to the lung can be another of the mesothelioma causes of asbestos cancer in dogs although it’s more common in rats. Radionuclides accumulate in the lungs and then cause the lung tumors.
In Greece, researchers at the University of Ioannina reported that diethylstilbesterol (DES) exerts toxic effects on animals, and one of those toxic effects is malignant mesothelioma. Thus you can count it as another of the asbestos mesothelioma causes.
Other researchers at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania interviewed dog owners to see if they could find mesothelioma causes in 16 cases of canine mesothelioma. They found a significant relationship between an asbestos-related occupation/hobby of a household member and the use of flea repellents on the dog and the incidence of asbestos mesothelioma. They also found that there was an increased risk of developing canine mesothelioma if the family lived in an urban residence. The veterinarians also saw higher levels of chrysotile asbestos fibers in the lung tissue in mesothelioma dogs than the control dogs.
Also Read Neighorhood Exposure to Asbestos
What’s the Life Expectancy of Mesothelioma Dogs?
Although each case of asbestos cancer in dogs varies, research studies have documented the following info about the life expectancy of asbestos mesothelioma dogs.
Veterinarians at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology stated in their observation of five Golden Retrievers with pericardial mesothelioma that the dogs lived from 30 to 54 months between the first visit and death. This is the longest recorded canine mesothelioma life expectancy rate reported in the medical literature.
They also noted that the mesothelioma dogs first suffered from hemorrhage around the heart in the pericardial lining and then the pericardial mesothelioma diagnosis came afterward.
• In a study of 17 canine dog patients with fluid around the heart due to pericardial mesothelioma or unknown cause, veterinarians stated that there was only one way to be sure of an asbestos mesothelioma diagnosis. The canine mesothelioma cancer had to be physically identified. They stated that if the swelling returns within 120 days of the pericardiectomy procedure to drain the fluid, this increases the likelihood that its mesothelioma. If the dog goes longer than 120 days after the pericardiectomy without needing chemotherapy, it’s less likely to be canine mesothelioma. They didn’t mention the canine mesothelioma life expectancy.
• In a study of 46 cases of dogs that had swelling around the heart (pericardial effusion), veterinarians a the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital found that the asbestos mesothelioma life expectancy of dogs with mesothelioma was 13.6 months. Getting the fluid drained did not affect the risk of recurrence or survival time.
Mesothelioma Dogs with Metastases
The veterinarian literature also includes individual cases where dogs had asbestos mesothelioma. You’ll notice that these dogs’ mesothelioma life expectancy varies as well.
• A 12-year-old Welsh Corgi with mesothelioma of the scrotum, died 144 days after surgery. The dog had metastases to the lung, peritoneum, and lymph nodes.
• A 12-year-old Scottish terrier with malignant mesothelioma of the tunica vaginalis was diagnosed first. It “rapidly” spread to the peritoneal cavity without spreading itself via the blood or lymphatic system. No time frame is given for the mesothelioma life expectancy; only the words “rapidly fatal clinical course”.
• A 9-month-old mixed breed male dog came into the veterinarian’s office with its owner and died during the visit. The post-mortem exam showed multiple yellowish-red, soft to firm masses up to 6 cm in diameter. They were located over the pericardial and parietal pleural surfaces. It was definitely a canine mesothelioma diagnosis. It is rare to see these types of tumors in dogs at such a young age.
• One Italian dog, a companion dog, stayed in remission after chemotherapy for 3+ years while another companion dog died in 8 months from canine mesothelioma. His condition worsened.
• A young mixed breed male dog, only 11 months old, was brought in after vomiting and anorexia for two months. He was euthanized. The after-death exam showed numerous firm nodules that coalesced or were multiple in nature. They were up to 40 mm in diameter and throughout the abdomen. The canine malignant mesothelioma had metastasized to the abdomen, mediastinum, and to the lymph nodes in the trachea and bronchi.
Mesothelioma Dogs with Abdominal Distention Or Fluid Around the Heart
Because asbestos mesothelioma is a very aggressive malignant asbestos cancer, it has low survival rates. Swelling around the heart or in the abdomen is common and it is often necessary to drain this to prevent undue stress on the heart.
• A 10-year-old Maltese dog with abdominal distention and shortness of breath was given tests that discovered it had numerous nodules throughout the surface of the abdominal organs and peritoneum. They were diagnosed as mesothelioma. The dog was given chemotherapy and improved without significant side effects. The mesothelioma life expectancy from diagnosis to sudden death was 153 days.
• An 11-year-old male Golden Retriever mixed breed had to be euthanized after draining fluid around the heart on several incidents. When an autopsy was performed, the dog had numerous firm to hard plaque-like masses in its body. They were located around his heart, in the middle of his body (mediastinal) and on the rib/lung surfaces. The masses were like solid sheets and aggregates of cells. The dog had a case of mesothelioma called lipid-rich mesothelioma.
• Another dog was euthanized for the condition. This one was a 10-year-old German shepherd that came into the vet’s office with severe abdominal distension. At the necropsy, the veterinarian found a whitish and firm mass along with metastases to the heart lining and lungs. The origin of the canine mesothelioma tumor was from the peritoneal mesothelioma.
• A 3-year-old German shepherd had a similar history as the previous dog. He was brought into the veterinarian’s office with severe abdominal distension. Some fluid was drained off and analyzed under the microscope, finding asbestos cancer cells. The dog was euthanized. In the necropsy, a tumor mass was attached to the pancreas and stomach. There were also numerous nodules covering the intestinal lining (serosa) and bladder.
• A 10-year-old Golden Retriever was diagnosed with primary cardiac mesothelioma plus a granular cell tumor. The dog had a thoracotomy, pericardiectomy and the mass was removed. Four months later the dog was still alive without any swelling occurring in the heart or abdomen.
• A 6-year-old male mixed breed first came to the veterinarian with right-sided heart failure and buildup of fluid in the heart. Tests did not show asbestos mesothelioma until three months later when the buildup of fluid occurred again. The dog received chemotherapy twice and had some kidney toxicity issues that were resolved. Twenty-seven months later the dog was still free of pericardial mesothelioma.
• A 11-year-old dog diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma ended up being euthanized in only five months for the disease due to uncontrollable pleural swelling. During those months, his owner said that he was still playful and had a good appetite. Upon necropsy, there were extensive mesothelioma metastases covering the whole pleura, epicardium and pericardium.
Therefore, canine asbestos mesothelioma is similar to mesothelioma in humans. The symptoms are similar. The diagnosis is often difficult unless it’s in an advanced state. The treatment of canine mesothelioma is similar to human asbestos mesothelioma. And the prognosis is often similar.
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