How common is brain cancer in Canada

Canine brain tumor

Signs of a brain tumor in the dog

How can you diagnose a brain tumor? Aggression is not necessarily a sign of a brain tumor, but can be an expression of behavior problems or expressions of pain. Rather, one should react to sometimes sudden changes in behavior. That can be aggressiveness, but also lethargy. Therefore a detailed examination and discussion of the symptoms is necessary.

Diverse changes and failure symptoms in the patient can be signs of a brain tumor. These can be, for example, suddenly poor vision, staggering or total inability to move, epileptic seizures or strange behavioral changes (anxiety or increased aggressiveness) in the dog. The first indications can be proven by your pet veterinarian during a general examination. Modern imaging methods (computed tomography or MRT) are then used for further examinations. Changes in the brain can be shown here and suspected diagnoses can be made based on the changes involved.

The therapy of the brain tumor in the dog

The treatment of a dog suffering from a brain tumor has two goals: (1) The improvement of the quality of life and (2) the long-term maintenance of the improved general condition.

For this purpose, antiepileptic substances are first administered. The condition of the disease can be significantly improved for about 2 months through the use of corticosone preparations. This period of time must be used to carry out a more targeted treatment - if this is possible. Both surgery and radiation therapy have established themselves as therapeutic options here. There is no silver bullet, rather the best therapy plan for the patient and family needs to be discussed with specialized veterinarians.

Surgical interventions are intended to reduce the tumor mass and thus improve the symptoms. Follow-up care is often very time-consuming to prevent complications after the operation.

Radiation therapy is currently the most common treatment of choice for brain tumors in dogs and cats. The greatest possible protection of the surrounding tissue is achieved by giving a few doses of radiation. First, a so-called planning CT is carried out under short anesthesia in order to determine the best possible treatment. Then the series of irradiations is administered. The life expectancy of a dog's brain tumor is normally significantly longer than the life expectancy of around 3 to 4 months under normal conditions.

Treatment of the brain tumor with dendritic cell therapy

The immunological treatment of brain tumors in dogs can be carried out very well together with the other treatments:

  1. When performing radiation therapy, dendritic cell treatment should be planned before the start of the radiation series. After completion of the radiation treatment, the immunological treatment is continued. This reduces the side effects of the radiation treatment, especially the long-term effects on this sensitive tissue.
  2. Dendritic cells can be used in conjunction with cortisone treatment and anti-epileptic drugs.

This combined approach - established forms of treatment and immunological treatment - can improve the quality of life and survival times.

You can find more information on brain tumors, for example, at:

Source: Reissmeisl JH, Pancotto TE (2020): Tumors of the Nervous System in: Withrow & MacEwen's Small Animal Clinical Oncology, 6th Ed., St. Louis, MI, 657- 674