Oncology

Physicians, Veterinarians Team up to Fight Cancer

Photo: Physicians, Veterinarians Team up to Fight Cancer

Below, please find links to all of the clinical trials involving cancer (oncology). The studies include a multitude of information, including (but not limited to) the study’s purpose, benefits for participating, and financial incentive information. If you have any questions, please contact the individual outlined at the end of each trial summary.

Please visit the Oncology service webpage at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) or the Comparative Cancer Center (CCC) if you would like to learn more about the amazing things that our oncologists can do for you and your animal.  

If you have any questions that are specific to oncology for any species, please contact our Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759).

Horses
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Understanding the Genetics in Haflinger Horses

Title: Genetic Investigation of Limbal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Haflinger Horses

Purpose: Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of cancer to affect the eye, specifically where the clear cornea meets the white of the eye, or the “limbus”. This type of eye cancer affects Haflingers more than other breeds, so the objective of this study is to determine the role genetics plays in limbal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) in Haflinger horses. This study is designed to determine the incidence of LSCC in the breed, to determine the mode of inheritance if a single gene is involved, and identify candidate genes for further investigation.

Contact: Dr. Rebecca Bellone at 530-752-9299 or rbellone@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Haflinger horses with confirmed LSCC (confirmed by pathology), or horses that have never been diagnosed with LSCC that are at least 13 years old. Horses that are suspicious for LSCC are invited to participate, but confirmation would be required prior to inclusion in the study.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Any horse with confirmed LSCC does not need to be evaluated in person to participate. Participation for horses with confirmed LSCC involves providing (1) a copy of a pathology report confirming LSCC, (2) the horse’s registered name for pedigree analysis, and (3) a hair sample. Horses that have not had LSCC and are at least 13 years old will need to be examined by a boarded veterinary ophthalmologist to confirm that they don’t have LSCC. This may be done at UC-Davis VMTH or elsewhere.

Procedures:

  • Participation in this clinical trial, which could last between 15 minutes to one hour, will include discussion of the horse’s medical history, documentation on known pedigree information, examination of the horse’s eyes by a veterinary ophthalmologist, photography of the horse to document coat color and any abnormalities found in the eyes, and collection of hair samples from the horse’s mane.
    • Examination of a horse’s eyes is similar to examination of a person’s eyes, with lights and magnifying lenses shone into the eyes to see if they are normal, or if any signs suspicious for LSCC are present.
    • For some horses, hair samples may be collected from the mane, similar to pulling the mane for show but only pulling a very small sample of about 50 hairs. This hair would be used to isolate DNA for genetic studies to help understand which genes may be involved in the development of LSCC.
  • Follow up phone calls or emails may be necessary if any questions about the horse’s medical history arise after the examination.
  • If any horse objects to having their eyes examined or to having mane hair pulled, these procedures would not be performed.

Benefits: If you are selected to participate in the study, the study will cover the costs associated with eye examination and mane pulling; however, if a presumptive diagnosis of SCC is made for your horse, any further diagnostics or therapy associated with the diagnosis of SCC will be your responsibility.

We cannot promise any benefits to your horse or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include lowering the incidence of this common eye cancer in Haflingers and other affected breeds, helping breeders to make informed mating decisions, and better prediction of the risk of developing disease for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Owner Responsibilities: Financially, you will be responsible for covering any costs associated with injuries sustained while participating in this trial and any costs associated with follow up of your animal at VMTH for assessment.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Cats

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Oral): Tumor Collection

Title: Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Repository study

Purpose of Study: UC Davis is collecting oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma samples to populate a tissue bank for future research studies.

Contact: Please talk to your oncologist at the time of your cat's visit.

Participation Requirements: Cats with confirmed diagnosis of oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Cats with a confirmed diagnosis of oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma,

Procedures: After receiving consent from owners, a sample of the tumor is banked at the time of your cat's visit.

Benefits: There is no cost to the owner for participation in this study. The samples collected will be stored for future use of investigators with the ultimate goal of developing a treatment and prevention for the variety of cancers.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to consent to the sample being collected at the time of your cat's visit.

Variety of Tumors: Assessing Minimally Invasive Tumor Ablation

Title: Thermal ablation of cancer in dogs and cats

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcome of treating veterinary patients with minimally invasive tumor ablation technologies including cryoablation and microwave ablation. These methods are growing in the treatment of a variety of cancers in the human medical field, but information in veterinary patients is currently very limited. To date we have completed a study on cryoablation in nasal tumor patients, and this technique has been very successful in reducing tumor volume in nasal tumor patients – although there are no more spots in the formal nasal tumor study, because of this success, we continue to offer this technique as a clinical service to nasal cancer patients, and are expanding the types of cancer that we are evaluating.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators (Conni, or Caleb) to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey. The coordinators will likely advise you to send your pet's medical records and imaging results for Dr. Steffey's review. If, based on this information, your pet is deemed an appropriate candidate, an appointment will be scheduled.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, your pet must have **solitary** malignant soft tissue or bony mass **that is deemed amenable to ablation**. Tumor types that MAY be amenable to this treatment include lung tumors, kidney tumors, adrenal tumors, and bone tumors in certain locations. however determination of eligibility is complex and relates to the size of the lesion as well as proximity to/involvement of other important nearby structures. Tumors that are superficial (involving or near to the skin) or that involve the gastrointestinal tract are not amenable to this treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, under general anesthesia, ablation probes will be placed into your pet’s mass under ultrasound guidance and the tumor will be ablated.

Benefits: This treatment method may only be palliative, but it is our hope that in appropriately selected patients, we may improve quality of life as well as longevity.

Owner Responsibilities: The study will cover the cost of the ablation probes and generator. Costs of pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of the disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility.

Variety of Tumors and Diseases: Improving operative detection of tumors

Title: Fluorescent imaging of cancer

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with naturally occurring neuroendocrine tumors disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Cats with the following conditions are most likely to benefit from this study: hyperparathyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, adrenal cancer, thymoma, mammary (breast) cancer, lung cancer, anal sac gland cancer, oral cancer, mast cell tumor. Cats with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, the best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: It is hoped, but is not known if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Fluorescent imaging may or may not improve operative localization and dissection of your pet’s tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Costs of standard pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of your pet’s disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility. The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Dogs

NEW! Brain Tumors: Assessing a New Drug Delivery System

Title: Nanoporphyrin theranostics for canine primary brain tumors: Phase I/II clinical trial

Purpose: This clinical trial is being done to investigate whether small particles called nanoporhphyrins can be used to better visualize tumors during surgery and potentially to see if they will be a useful method to deliver drugs into brain tumors for treatment.

Contact: Contact Lisa Winn (Neurology Scheduling Coordinator) at llwinn@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393 and follow the prompts for Neurology/Neurosurgery

Participation Requirements: Dogs provisionally diagnosed with a brain tumor

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Infusion of the nanoporphyrin particles prior to surgery
  • Collection of blood prior to and after infusion and surgery
  • Brain surgery to remove the tumor resected (standard therapy for brain tumors), during which:
    • A special light source will be used to 1) determine if the fluorescent particles are present in the tumor, and 2) potentially help to better define the tumor edges for safe surgical resection
    • Samples of the removed tumor will be sent to the laboratory for evaluation.
    • Following removal of the tumor, the tumor cavity will be illuminated by the light source to help identify any remaining tumor and to potentially help to kill any remaining cells.

Benefits: We hope that this technique will help us better visualize the tumor, allowing for a more complete removal of the tumor, and killing of residual tumor cells following surgical removal. Information obtained from your dog's treatment may help to further develop this type of treatment for both dogs and humans and could improve the treatment in both species in the future.

Additionally, the trial will provide up to $5,000 credit toward your dog’s treatment.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for about standard 5-7 days for any dog getting brain surgery at the VMTH plus 1 additional day prior to surgery to administer the drug. You will be financially responsible for the cost of your dog’s standard treatment during the clinical trial and any complications arising from that treatment or from the experimental clinical trial procedures. The clinical trial will provide up to $5,000 financial support towards these costs. You will be provided with an estimate of the costs that are likely to be incurred during the treatment of your dog. If there are any significant changes to this estimate that arise during treatment, these will be discussed with you prior to proceeding with medical care of your dog.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Mast Cell Tumors: Assessing Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Sentinel lymph node mapping in dogs with mast cell tumors

Purpose of Study: Mast cell tumors are a very common skin tumor in dogs, and a common mechanism of spread in the body (metastasis) is to nearby lymph nodes. If tumor spread to lymph nodes is identified (as part of staging), this is important information that often influences treatment recommendations. Currently, standard protocols for looking for metastasis in lymph nodes most commonly include aspiration cytology. Aspiration cytology is minimally invasive, but may miss a diagnosis of lymph node metastasis in a concerning number of patients – early literature suggests metastatic disease may be missed by lymph node aspiration in up to 40% of patients! The concern is that not only does aspiration cytology only sample a very small amount of a given lymph node, but that it is difficult to ensure that we have correctly predicted the optimal lymph node to sample for any given mast cell tumor. Lymph node mapping, a technique to visualize the lymphatic drainage of tumors by which tumor cells might spread, is increasingly used to improve cancer staging and treatment protocols in the treatment of cancer in humans. Efforts are made to identify the “sentinel lymph node,” or primary lymph node that is most likely to demonstrate evidence of metastatic disease if it is present. This lymph node can then be surgically removed with the primary tumor, in order to be evaluated microscopically for spread of cancer. However the common method of sentinel lymph node mapping performed in people is not widely available to veterinarians. This trial is being performed to hopefully identify an alternative method of sentinel lymph node mapping that can be more widely accessible to a greater number of veterinary practitioners. By doing so, we hope that this will improve the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and treatment recommendations we make for dogs with mast cell tumors and other cancers, improving their quality of life and lifespan.

Contact:

Participation Requirements: Dogs must have been diagnosed with a peripheral mast cell tumor, have been evaluated by or received a consult from a clinician the Soft Tissue Surgery service to determine if LN mapping is viable for your individual dog, and you have elected surgical excision of this tumor both for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. Oncology or Soft Tissue Surgery services. Specific preoperative diagnostic tests to ensure that your pet is safe for surgical removal of the mast cell tumor will be recommended by the clinician that you consult with on these services.

Procedures: If you choose to enroll your dog, lymph node mapping procedures will be performed the day before and the day of surgery. These will be discussed in more detail at the time of your appointment.

Benefits: The study will cover costs associated with the sentinel lymph node mapping imaging. There is no charge to you for these procedures.

Possible benefits of participating in this study for your dog include more sensitive identification of metastasis (spread of cancer) if it is present. If early metastasis is more sensitively identified, we can then make more accurate treatment recommendations for your pet. It is our hope that in addition to benefiting your dog, we will benefit future patients by advancing the standard of care offered when treating this type of cancer, improving care provided to larger numbers of veterinary cancer patients.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. for 1) preoperative evaluation of and 2) surgical removal of the mast cell tumor, and covering the standard costs associated with medical workup for and surgical removal of the mast cell tumor.

If you are calling to schedule an appointment and already know that you are interested in having your dog participate in this study, please inform the coordinators so that they can make sure to schedule appropriately for the mapping procedures.

Lymphoma: Assessing Ventricular Arrhythmias during Treatment

Title: Use of Diphenhydramine to Reduce Infusion-Related Ventricular Arrhythmias in Dogs Treated with Doxorubicin

Purpose of Study: The aim of this study is to see if administration of diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) prior to treatment with doxorubicin chemotherapy reduces the risk of arrhythmias (irregular rhythm) sometimes associated with the administration of tLymphomhis chemotherapy drug.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Dogs diagnosed with lymphoma and undergoing treatment with the CHOP protocol at the UC Davis VMTH are eligible to participate in this study. 

Procedures: As part of this study your animal will receive the same diagnostic tests and care that any other dog presented to the Oncology Service would receive. The only difference for study participants is that your dog may or may not receive an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine aka Benadryl) at the time of its 1st and 2nd doxorubicin treatments. Diphenhydramine can also be useful to reduce the liberation of histamine molecules that can cause arrhythmias. To evaluate the effects of diphenhydramine in this regard, a portable and battery-operated device that measures the heart's activity (Holter monitor) will be used. Dogs will wear the device for approximately 1 hour before and 3 hours after the infusion of chemotherapy, which may require that your dog stay in the hospital for a longer period of time than a traditional visit.

Benefits: We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include allowing us to better guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with the same disease. The understanding of your dog’s electrocardiogram may guide medical decisions and this technology (Holter monitoring) is free of charge for study participants.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner. If you agree to have your dog participate in this study, a screening echocardiogram and your dog’s Holter monitor, analyzed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, will be performed at no charge to you. All other costs associated with the recommended chemotherapy protocol and patient care will be your responsibility as they are not a part of this study.

Osteosarcoma: Assessing a New Addition to Treatment

Title: Evaluation of Oral Rapamycin for Treatment of Dogs with Osteosarcoma

Purpose of Study: Standard therapy for dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma has long been amputation of the affected limb followed by chemotherapy to prevent the spread of cancer. With this form of treatment, survival times of dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma is on average about 10 to 12 months with little improvement in survival occurring over the past two decades. Rapamycin is a drug that potentially can inhibit an important pathway in cancer progression known as mTOR. The purpose of this study is to determine if adding the oral drug Rapamycin into the treatment protocol for dogs with osteosarcoma will be safe and improve efficacy of current standard therapies for osteosarcoma in dogs. There will be about 160 dogs taking part in this study that is enrolling dogs nationwide.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for the cost of the initial examination with the UC Davis Oncology Service as well as the cost of the screening diagnostic tests, which include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, urinalysis, chest x-rays and abdominal ultrasound. 

Participation Requirements: Most of the exams, tests, and procedures you will have are part of the usual approach for your dog’s treatment for osteosarcoma including amputation of the affected limb and carboplatin chemotherapy given once every three weeks for 4 doses followed by monitoring of chest x-rays once every two months.

  • Week 1 evaluation - amputation
  • Weeks 3, 6, 9 and 12 evaluation – blood work and carboplatin treatment (and chest x-rays at week 9)
  • Week 15 evaluation – chest x-rays
  • Every 8 weeks – recheck chest x-rays

Some extra sample (tumor and blood) collections for dogs enrolled in both study groups will need to be taken if you take part in this study. Additionally, dogs enrolled in the Rapamycin Group will have extra visits required of them during the 4 months that they are receiving oral rapamycin and owners are expected to administer the oral rapamycin once daily Monday through Thursday.

Benefits: Benefits of standard therapy include removal of the painful cancerous tumor in your dog’s bone and delay of spread of cancer by providing chemotherapy with carboplatin. Once enrolled, the study will provide a $1000 hospital credit toward the cost of your dog’s amputation and will provide the total cost of carboplatin chemotherapy and follow-up examination and diagnostics. For dogs enrolled in the Rapamycin Group, we cannot promise any benefits to your pet or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner.  You will be responsible for the cost of amputation above and beyond the $1000 hospital credit provided by the study. You will also be responsible for any costs associated with management of side effects from the standard therapy portion of this study (amputation and carboplatin chemotherapy). All other study costs associated with study participation will be covered by the study.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Osteosarcoma: Assessing an Immunotherapy

Title: Radiation and Autologous Natural Killer Immunotherapy in Canine Osteosarcoma

Purpose of Study: Even when we can get local control of osteosarcoma, most dogs will die of their disease within a year even if they have amputation and chemotherapy. The goal is to see if we can slow or stop the formation of lung metastasis (spread of tumor to your dog’s lungs which occurs in over 90% of cases).

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with or strongly suspected of having osteosarcoma in the pelvis or one of the legs based on x-rays and staging tests to ensure his/her general health and to evaluate how advanced the disease is prior to treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  You are responsible for covering initial office visit, chest films, blood work (CBC/Biochemistry Panel), urinalysis, and diagnosis confirming Osteosarcoma.

Procedures: 

  • After enrollment, we will do a CT scan of the tumor and lungs, take a biopsy, collect blood (to grow your dogs natural killer cells), and complete a standard dose of palliative (pain reducing) radiation consisting of four once weekly doses.
  • One week after finishing radiotherapy, we will give the first of two injections into your dog’s tumor with your dog’s NK cells that we have grown, and take a biopsy.
  • One week later, we will need you to come back for the second injection of NK cells.
  • Three and six months later, we will then need you to come back for a CT of the lungs and a biopsy.

Benefits: While palliative radiation is known to be beneficial in decreasing pain in the majority of dogs with osteosarcoma, we do not know if there will be a direct therapeutic benefit to your dog or other dogs by your enrolling your dog to take part in this trial but we hope to help come up with a new treatment for this disease.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner.

You are responsible for covering costs associated with the initial diagnosis and palliative radiotherapy. After determining if your dog is eligible and you agree to participate, the study will cover the cost of biopsies, CT scans, anesthesia for the injection of the activated immune cells as well as the cost for us to grow these cells. You will also receive a credit of $1,500 towards the cost of palliative radiation to be applied to your bill at the VMTH at the day of second injection of the NK cells. In the event any complications arise during the study period that are related to biopsy or intratumoral injections but not your dog’s tumor, their management will be covered by study funds up to $1000/per dog to be used at the UC Davis VMTH.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Large Bowel Disease: Evaluating New Diagnostic Tool

Title: Evaluation of CT pneumocolonography as a diagnostic tool for large bowel disease in dogs

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of imaging findings on surgical decision-making in dogs with colonic and rectal disease of any kind (cancer or non-cancer). This part of the body can be a very difficult region examine with current imaging methods, which also do not provide optimal spatial information important if a surgical procedure is needed. In early studies, we have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the CT pneumocolonography procedure in normal dogs, but it is important that we learn to accurately interpret the imaging findings for a wide variety of disease processes in clinical patients so that our CT diagnoses are accurate. Our goal is to compare the imaging findings obtained with CT pneumocolonography with the current standard of care of colonoscopy and colonoscopic biopsies.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 to schedule an appointment with the Internal Medicine Service. When scheduling, please indicate your interest in the CT pneumocolonography study with Dr. Steffey/Dr Marks.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, a colonoscopic exam must have been recommended for workup of your dog’s problem, and your dog must be scheduled to receive a colonoscopic exam under general anesthesia at UC Davis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, your dog will receive a CT scan (with and without intravenous contrast material) in conjunction with carbon dioxide gas insufflated into the rectal lumen. Following CT pneumocolonography, your dog will receive the scheduled colonoscopy, which is the current standard of care for assessment of these masses, and if clinically indicated for the care of your dog, colonic biopsies or surgery will be obtained according to your discussion with your attending clinician.

Benefits: In return for participation in this study, your dog will receive a free CT scan (an approximately $800 value to you), which may directly benefit your dog, as it can provide important information for treatment recommendations that other types of imaging cannot. CT evaluation of local lymph nodes is an additional benefit as CT has been demonstrated to be very helpful in the evaluation of regional lymph nodes for metastatic disease in other types of cancer in other locations.

Owner Responsibilities: There is no additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. You are financially responsible for hospital costs associated with the standard care of your dog, including abdominal ultrasound, general anesthesia, colonoscopy, hospitalization, biopsies, and any other diagnostic tests recommended for evaluation of your dog’s disease by your attending clinician.

Lung Tumors: Identifying Lymph Node Metastasis

Title: Assessment of methods of improving identification of regional lymph nodes in patients with lung cancer

Purpose of Study: Knowing whether or not there is metastatic tumor in the regional lymph nodes is very important prognostic information for dogs with lung tumors, as dogs that do not have metastatic disease in their lymph nodes in general have a much longer lifespan. Chemotherapy is often recommended for patients who have metastatic disease, but is not recommended for dogs who do not have metastatic spread. The aim of this study is to provide information that will allow us to better identify these lymph nodes at surgery, to improve the safety of surgical dissection, and to minimize surgical time during removal of these lymph nodes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements:

  • A diagnosis of a solitary lung tumor
  • Your decision to pursue surgical removal of your dog’s lung tumor

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services. A CT scan at the VMTH is part of the normal expected surgical planning for lung tumor surgery at our institution, and is the financial responsibility of the client, but may be performed under the same anesthetic episode as the planned surgery. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Procedures: During CT and surgery, special dyes will be injected intravenously or into the lung around your dog’s tumor and uptake by the regional lymph nodes will be assessed.

Benefits: Information regarding the status of your dog’s lymph nodes is very important in prognosis for this disease. This technique will help surgeons to identify and more safely remove your dog's lymph nodes at surgery; pathology of the removed lymph node(s) will provide improved information to direct recommendations that we an give you for postoperative care and treatment. If based on the initial CT results you elect to have your dog goes to surgery as part of this study, the study will retroactively pay for the cost of your dog’s CT scan (a $900 value to you).

Owner Responsibilities: There is no anticipated additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. The cost of the dyes and operative imaging are covered by the study. The primary risks of this procedure are 1) allergic reaction to the drugs used to identify the lymph nodes (very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics)), and 2) air leakage from the lung at the site of the injection (if it occurs, this should be a short term problem, as removal of the affected lung will be performed as part of the tumor removal). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications. Standard anesthetic and surgical risks of lung surgery and lymph node surgery will apply and will be discussed at the time of your visit.

ON HOLD! Lymphoma (B-cell): Improving Prognosis Prediction Methods

Title: Utility of proliferation indices as prognostic markers for diffuse large B cell lymphoma in dogs

Purpose of Study: As is true for human patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, recent data supports the notion that different subtypes of canine lymphoma carry different prognoses, which may warrant different therapies. However, some subtypes of canine lymphoma that look and are classified the same behave differently. Currently, there are few markers available to help predict the outcome in individual dogs diagnosed with common subtypes of lymphoma. The purpose of this study is to:

  • Find markers that will help to better predict prognosis in individual dogs with the most common subtype of lymphoma; and,
  • Determine if these markers can be assessed in fine needle aspirate cytology samples rather than needle-core histopathology samples (the gold standard).
Mast Cell Tumors: Assessing a Potential Treatment

Title: Phase 3 study to compare the efficacy of Masitinib to placebo in the treatment of grade II or III non-resectable mast cell tumors in dogs

Purpose of Study: Surgical removal is generally recommended as the first step in treatment of mast cell tumors; however, sometimes surgery is not possible due to the size or location of the tumor or due to financial limitations. In that situation, treatment with steroids, chemotherapy or targeted therapies such as Masitinib may be beneficial in controlling the disease. Preliminary studies of Masitinib in dogs showed that it caused tumor shrinkage in 50% of dogs with mast cell tumors and increased 1- and 2-year survival rates in dogs with nonresectable mast cell tumors compared to placebo. Based on this data, Masitinib has conditional approval by the FDA for treatment of non-resectable grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors in dogs. The objective of the study is to evaluate the anti-cancer effects of Masitinib in comparison to a placebo in dogs with grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors that have not been previously removed or treated with chemotherapy or radiation. If this study confirms these results, the drug will become fully approved.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Participation Requirements

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Contact the Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Procedures: If your dog is enrolled, a small biopsy will be taken from the mast cell tumor to confirm grade and for additional testing. Your dog will then be randomly assigned to receive treatment with either Masitinib or a placebo with two-thirds of the dogs receiving Masitinib and one-third receiving placebo. You will not know whether you are giving the study drug or the placebo (even after you dog has completed the study). Your pet will come in every other week for examination, tumor measurement, blood work and imaging tests (x-rays and/or ultrasound) to check for cancer progression and/or side effects from the drug. No more than 1 tablespoon of blood will be drawn per visit. More invasive testing (fine needle aspiration) will only occur if your veterinarian is concerned about spread of the cancer or to monitor spread to a lymph node that has already occurred. Your dog cannot receive steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during the study period, but can receive medications to treat nausea, diarrhea, infection, itchiness, and pain if needed.

Benefits: You are responsible for the initial consult visit fee at UCDavis.  If you and your dog meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria, staging will be covered by study (Blood work, Biopsy, Bone Marrow Aspirates, Radiographs, Ultrasound) regardless if your dog qualifies. 

Although not all tumors will respond to Masitinib, it is possible that the drug may help control your dog’s mast cell tumor. The information gathered from this study may help other dogs with mast cell tumors in the future by determining whether Masitinib is an effective treatment for non-resectable grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors.

Owner Responsibilities: If you elect to participate in this study, you will be responsible for scheduling and keeping appointments every two weeks. If you have to miss an appointment, please try to reschedule as soon as possible by calling 530-752-1393 (press 3,3 to reach the Oncology Schedule Coordinator). You will also be responsible for giving your dog the study medication as directed every day and for reporting any side effects of the drug to your doctor in a timely manner.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Nasal cancer: Using a Combination of Therapies for Treatment

Title: Nasal tumors: Intra-arterial Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy to Treat Nasal Carcinoma

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to prospectively evaluate the response of nasal cancer to a combination of therapies (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) in dogs.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with nasal tumors

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs that are scheduled to receive radiation therapy for the treatment of nasal cancer can be enrolled in the study. Dogs will be placed into a group receiving radiation therapy alone or with chemotherapy.  Response to these treatments will be assessed with CT scans (done before and after treatment).

Benefits: The CT scans, chemotherapy administration, and part of the radiation therapy will be paid for by the study.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for providing follow-up information to the treating clinicians and returning the dog 4 weeks after initiation of radiation therapy for a second CT evaluation (the first is performed prior to treatment).

Prostate cancer: Evaluating Embolization as a Treatment Option

Title: Evaluation of the Use of Embolization in the Treatment of Prostatic Neoplasia

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to describe the procedure of prostatic artery embolization in a group of dogs with naturally-occurring prostate cancer. A secondary objective is to evaluate the effect that prostatic artery embolization has on clinical signs and the size of the tumor.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with prostate cancer

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs will undergo prostatic artery embolization. Pre-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings will be compared to post-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings. Complications associated with the procedure will be recorded and owners will receive a questionnaire to assess the clinical signs of the dog both pre- and post-procedure.

Benefits: The benefits of enrolling in this study include financial support for both pre- and post-procedure diagnostics. Additionally, funding from this grant will be applied towards the procedure. We hope that the data acquired in this study will allow us to advance the treatment of cancer in both dogs and people.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for scheduling appointments (initial and 1 month follow-up) and keeping those appointments as required by protocol.

Prostate, Urethra and/or Bladder Tumors: Evaluating Urethral Stent Outcomes

Title: Prospective Evaluation of Urodynamic Testing in Dogs Undergoing Urethral Stent Placement to Relieve Malignant Urethral Obstruction

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to determine the urethral and bladder pressures of dogs with cancer-induced urethral obstructions and in dogs with urethral stents.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with tumors causing obstruction of the urethra (bladder, urethra and prostate)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Urodynamic studies will be performed at the time of stent placement. Following the urodynamic studies, a urethral stent will be placed. At 3 weeks post-stent placement, canine continence scores will be obtained from clients regarding the dog’s voiding habits and urodynamic studies will be performed again.

Benefits: The goal of placing the stent is to improve the dog’s quality of life. All anesthetic episodes (2) will be paid for by the study. Additionally, all charges associated with the bladder and urethral pressure assessment will be paid for by the study. There are 2 major study benefits:

  1. We will be able to inform clients of the pressures in their dog’s bladder and urethra and discuss the possible implications of this; and,
  2. Financial compensation.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for scheduling appointments (initial and 3 weeks after stent placement) and keeping those appointments as required by protocol. Additionally, the owner will need to fill out forms related to their dog’s continence status.

ON HOLD! Sarcomas and Melanomas: Evaluating a New Treatment

Title: Radioimmunotherapy for metastatic sarcomas and melanomas

Purpose of Study: We are trying to develop better ways to treat advanced cancer. Specifically we are developing ways to activate the immune system to attack cancer. We are hoping to benefit dogs with advanced cancer and hoping this information may also help inform future human clinical trials.

ON HOLD! Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Evaluating a New Treatment

Title: Pre-clinical evaluation of intratumoral plasmid IL-12 + electroporation in dogs with spontaneous soft tissue sarcoma

Purpose of Study: We have been evaluating ways to activate the immune system into recognizing that a tumor is foreign and attacking it. The purpose of this study is to determine if injecting this investigational drug (Interleukin-12 plasmid or pIL-12 that is administered using electroporation) prior to surgery will help activate the immune system and help stop the tumor from coming back or spreading. This therapy is under investigation in the United States for treatment of cancer and has not been approved for sale by the US FDA for human or veterinary use.

Variety of Tumors: Assessing Minimally Invasive Tumor Ablation

Title: Thermal ablation of cancer in dogs and cats

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcome of treating veterinary patients with minimally invasive tumor ablation technologies including cryoablation and microwave ablation. These methods are growing in the treatment of a variety of cancers in the human medical field, but information in veterinary patients is currently very limited. To date we have completed a study on cryoablation in nasal tumor patients, and this technique has been very successful in reducing tumor volume in nasal tumor patients – although there are no more spots in the formal nasal tumor study, because of this success, we continue to offer this technique as a clinical service to nasal cancer patients, and are expanding the types of cancer that we are evaluating.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey. The coordinators will likely advise you to send your pet's medical records and imaging results for Dr. Steffey's review. If, based on this information, your pet is deemed an appropriate candidate, an appointment will be scheduled.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, your pet must have **solitary** malignant soft tissue or bony mass **that is deemed amenable to ablation**. Tumor types that MAY be amenable to this treatment include lung tumors, kidney tumors, adrenal tumors, and bone tumors in certain locations. however determination of eligibility is complex and relates to the size of the lesion as well as proximity to/involvement of other important nearby structures. Tumors that are superficial (involving or near to the skin) or that involve the gastrointestinal tract are not amenable to this treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, under general anesthesia, ablation probes will be placed into your pet’s mass under ultrasound guidance and the tumor will be ablated.

Benefits: This treatment method may only be palliative, but it is our hope that in appropriately selected patients, we may improve quality of life as well as longevity.

Owner Responsibilities: The study will cover the cost of the ablation probes and generator. Costs of pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of the disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility.

Variety of Tumors: Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Identification of sentinel lymph nodes with intraoperative fluorescence

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with natural disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs scheduled for surgery to treat their primary tumor, and for whom clients are interested in improving their pet’s staging information by lymph node biopsy. Dogs most likely to benefit from this technique include those with primary lung tumors, mast cell tumors, oral cancers, and carcinomas in general, as these are types of tumors that tend to exhibit spread by the lymphatic system. Tumors may be external (skin associated) or internal. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by Dr. Michele Steffey on the Soft Tissue Surgery Service.

Procedures: The best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered either subcutaneously or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: Preliminary, not yet published results have demonstrated that the fluorescent imaging is very helpful in locating the important lymph nodes at surgery, which often reduces the amount of dissection needed, and may reduce the amount of time under anesthesia. The purpose of this study is to aid in identifying lymph nodes for improved staging (lymph node biopsy) at the time your pet’s primary tumor is removed. It is hoped, but is not known, if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Depending upon your pet’s specific tumor type and the biopsy results, use of this technique and lymph node biopsy may or may not impact the postoperative treatment recommendations provided to your dog.

Owner Responsibilities: The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Variety of Tumors and Diseases: Improving Operative Detection of Tumors

Title: Fluorescent imaging of cancer

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with naturally occurring neuroendocrine tumors disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with the following conditions are most likely to benefit from this study: hyperparathyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, adrenal cancer, thymoma, mammary (breast) cancer, lung cancer, anal sac gland cancer, oral cancer, mast cell tumor. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, the best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: It is hoped, but is not known if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Fluorescent imaging may or may not improve operative localization and dissection of your pet’s tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Costs of standard pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of your pet’s disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility. The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.