Canine Melanoma Vaccine: Breakthrough Treatment for Melanoma in Dogs

Canine Melanoma Vaccine: Breakthrough Treatment for Melanoma in Dogs

Canine melanoma vaccine, known as ONCEPT, was developed by Merial, a worldwide leader in the area of animal health. It was the first therapeutic vaccine to be approved by the USDA for treating cancer in animals or humans.

Some pet owners may be confused by the term ‘vaccine’ and think that canine melanoma vaccine is for prevention of the disease. However, this is a treatment option for dogs already affected with melanoma.

Melanoma in dogs is a serious, often fatal type of cancer and this vaccine is one of the best treatment options veterinary medicine has to offer to date. Due to the malignant and metastatic nature of melanoma, standard treatments are not always successful. Surgery and radiotherapy can only control local tumor. Melanoma tumor is resistant to chemotherapy, so the latter is not useful for controlling metastasis.

The vaccine is specifically used for treatment of stage 2 or stage 3 oral canine melanoma. The latter is the most common type of cancer of the dog’s mouth. Since it is not easy for a pet owner to check inside the dog’s mouth regularly, most oral tumors are already at advanced stages when found. Oral melanoma tends to spread rapidly to other parts of the body, especially liver, lungs and lymph nodes.

How Canine Melanoma Vaccine Works

The vaccine helps the dog’s immune system to recognise and destroy melanoma tumor cells. It does not replace standard treatment but rather, is used after the tumor has been locally controlled with surgery and/or radiotherapy.

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The average survival time for dogs with advanced oral melanoma and treated with conventional therapies is less than 5 months. In clinical trials, canine melanoma vaccine has been shown to significantly increase survival times of dogs with stage 2 and stage 3 oral melanoma.

Administration of Canine Melanoma Vaccine

The vaccine is administered using a Canine Transdermal Device. The latter is a needle-free device that ensures the vaccine is distributed optimally. The initial treatment is four doses, with each dose given every 2 weeks. Thereafter, a booster is given every 6 months.

Canine melanoma vaccine brings hope to many dogs that suffer from advanced stages of oral melanoma. It offers the best chance of survival and quality of life when coupled with conventional treatment options. The vaccine is available from a veterinary oncologist who specialises in cancer treatment for animals. Speak with your vet who may be able to advise and refer you to a veterinary oncologist in your area.