28-lb cat undergoes limb-sparing cancer treatment

Ten-year-old Cyrano (above) underwent specialized treatment for osteosarcoma at Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center. (Courtesy CSU Animal Cancer Center)

A 10-year-old, 28-pound tabby cat is the first cat to undergo specialized radiation and chemotherapy limb-sparing treatment for bone cancer at Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center.

The cat, Cyrano, was admitted to the center in March after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Often this cancer is treated with amputation followed by chemotherapy, but Cyrano’s owner, Sandy Lerner, said she thought that his quality of life would be low if a limb were amputated, due to his significant heft.

Surgical limb-sparing treatment for bone cancer in dogs is available using cadaver bones, but there is currently no such option for cats. Lerner called around the country trying to find alternatives to amputation until she found CSU’s Animal Cancer Center, which agreed to treat Cyrano with radiation and chemotherapy.

After arriving at the center, Cyrano underwent stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), a type of treatment that uses the center’s targeted radiation delivery machine, the Varian Trilogy accelerator. The accelerator precisely targets the tumors and is designed to destroy tumors without amputation. According to the university, SRS has been used on 37 dogs, all of which had their tumors completely eradicated.

Christine Hardy, DVM, is the director of operations for the Animal Cancer Center at CSU. Hardy said that while SRS had never been used on cats before, the center was not afraid to give it a shot.

“We were not apprehensive to do it,” Hardy said. “We’re a large research center, and we don’t mind pushing the envelope sometimes as long as we think it’s a reasonable thing to do.”

After the radiation treatment, Cyrano began chemotherapy at the center, and is continuing chemo at home in Virginia.

The treatment is not cheap, and according to Hardy, Lerner could spend upward of $13,000 for Cyrano’s treatment, which includes $6,700 for the SRS, and $3,000-4,000 for chemotherapy.

Center Director Steve Withrow, DVM, led Cyrano’s SRS treatment program, with the assistance of Jim Perry, DVM, medical oncology resident; Susan LaRue, DVM, radiation oncologist; and James Custis, radiation oncology resident.

Hardy reported that Cyrano is doing “beautifully,” and is getting ready for his 11th birthday on Memorial Day. Unfortunately he does not seem to have lost any weight, though.