Chondrosarcoma in Dogs Life Expectancy

The National Canine Cancer Foundation reports that the average survival time for dogs with nasal chondrosarcoma is:

  • 1 year 7 months (approximately) when treated with rhinotomy (incision into the nose) combined with radiation.
  • 7 months or so in dogs not treated with a combination of rhinotomy and radiation.

Chondrosarcoma of the Ribs Prognosis:

  • The survival rate depends on whether the cancer has spread to the lungs, kidney, liver, heart, and skeleton. If you continue to read, you’ll see a grading table that further defines how long your dog could be expected to live.
  • Amputation (surgical removal of affected ribs along with a large margin of lung tissue in case the cancer has begun to metastasize) of the limb brings the average survival rate to about 1 1/2 years. Radiation is sometimes used. Chemotherapy is thought to not work adequately.

Chondrosarcoma of Limb Prognosis:

  • Long-term survival appears to be related to having no metastasis of the cancer  (hasn’t spread) and having the affected limb amputated.  In this scenario, the addition of radiation isn’t necessary and the dog could go on to live a full life.  You will want to talk to your veterinarian about ongoing tests. This way, the doctor won’t miss early signs of any further tumors and can proactively treat if required.

Unfortunately, if the cancer has spread beyond the limb, survival rate declines. It was difficult to find any concrete numbers for you. The following paragraph on how cancer is graded might be of interest, however.

Grading Chondrosarcoma

It’s important to note that the life expectancy of a dog with chondrosarcoma (no matter where the tumor originates) depends on whether the cancer has spread, and where the cancer is graded (on a scale of 1 -3 with 3 being worse). Other factors that might affect the prognosis might include age, weight, other health conditions, etc.

Grade I:     Non-malignant and has not spread to other parts of the body. 90% will reach the five-year survival rate with a very low rate of recurrence.

Grade II:   Mast cell tumors are slightly deeper below the skin into the subcutaneous tissues and may be in a prime spot to start spreading. 81% of dogs will reach the five-year survival rate.   The chance of recurrence is fair.

Grade III:   At this point, mast cell tumors are deep into the tissues and are spreading. At grade III, only 29% of dogs will reach the five-year survival rate, a huge drop from grade II.  It’s thought that there is a high chance of recurrence.

Chondrosarcomas Develop In One of Two Ways:

  • Central (Medullary)

This particular type of cancer forms within the bone (usually along flat bones) and is mostly found in large breed dogs. It’s usually diagnosed in middle-aged or senior dogs.

  • Periosteum Chondrosarcoma

This type of bone cancer develops on the outer membrane covering the bone.  No matter the origin, chondrosarcoma is a malignant tumor that needs to be treated by a licensed veterinarian.

3 Common Types of Bone Cancer:

This article is focused (in broad terms) on chondrosarcoma in dogs. Chondrosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that appears in middle-aged to senior dogs. This is a malignant tumor that is said to be slow progressing.  Without treatment, the tumor will eventually spread to other organs.  This type of cancer originates in one of two ways: centrally within the bone, or within the protective membrane that covers the bone.

  • Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a common bone tumor that accounts for up to 85% of all tumor malignancies in dogs.  It typically affects large, older dog breeds including:

  • Great Dane
  • Irish setter
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever

Osteosarcoma seems to affect middle age to senior dogs with a higher propensity aimed at intact males and females. Symptoms may include lameness in either the forelimb or the hind limb along with pain and swelling.

  • Fibrosarcoma

This type of bone cancer originates in the connective tissue of the skin.  These are slow-growing but malignant (cancerous) tumors. Although the tumors can be surgically removed, reports show that the cancer tends to recur. The good news is that these tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.  As mentioned above, this topic is particularly complex with a whole series of alternate names for fibrosarcoma like neurofibromas, peripheral nerve sheath tumors, spindle cell tumors, etc.

It’s not known exactly why this tumor occurs. Biopsy or fine-needle aspiration may be required in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

Where Does Chondrosarcoma in Dogs Appear?

Chondrosarcoma in dogs can originate in the:

  • nasal cavity
  • ribs
  • pelvis
  • mammary glands
  • heart (including valves)
  • aorta
  • larynx
  • trachea
  • bones in the face
  • paws (digits)

How Can I Tell if my Dog Has Bone Cancer?

I’ve listed the typical symptoms below, but please remember that these symptoms could signify something else entirely. Only a licensed veterinarian will be able to determine that.

  • limping or lameness
  • sudden extreme sneezing
  • nose bleeds
  • pain in limb
  • bone fracture or difficulty breathing.

Alternative Treatments for Chondrosarcoma in Dogs

I don’t personally subscribe to holistic or “natural” therapies that haven’t been proven in medical science. The only time I would try homeopathic remedies on my dog would be to treat minor skin irritations or mild allergies. That’s just my opinion, not a recommendation. All I’m trying to say is that I would rather treat my dog with tested methods and drugs.  You may argue that homeopathy doesn’t hurt your dog. The way I see it, the longer you treat your dog with questionable therapies, the longer you’re allowing that cancer to grow and spread without intervention.

The only thing I feel comfortable suggesting is to get an absolute diagnosis from a licensed veterinarian first. Discuss all of your treatment options with him/her and openly ask about any alternative therapies you might be considering.  There are a lot of compelling stories out there designed to turn you away from modern medicine. Please ask a lot of questions and make sure you’re doing the right thing for your dog.  I’m sure it’s the hardest thing to do when all you want is to fix your dog – fast.  I totally get it.

Will my Dog Live Longer if a Limb is Amputated and the Cancer Hasn’t Spread?

Again, I’ll refer you to the grading system above. The veterinarian will be able to tell you where your dog fits on the spectrum. The chances of living five years are much better when the disease is still at grade I.

At the end of the day, I just want to see a world full of healthy, happy dogs.  I don’t care if they have three legs or four. If what I write about has any impact on that outcome, then I am thrilled.  These posts include my opinion mixed with the research I have been able to find.  If you see anything that you believe to be in error, please let me know so that I can fix it right away.

Errors? email me at [email protected]

Now that you’ve had a chance to read this post, it’s time to have a look at other useful articles including The Truth About Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy.

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