Bioregulatory medicine, an integrative modality that factors in everything from lifestyle to biology, is showing promise as an alternative treatment for bladder cancer in canine patients.
Veterinarians worldwide are seeing a tremendous rise in all forms of cancer, including bladder cancers. While bladder cancer itself is still relatively rare, representing an estimated 1% to 2% of all canine cancers, its incidence does appear to be increasing, affecting more than 50,000 dogs every year. This article reviews what the conventional approach to treatment offers, and also presents safe and effective “alternatives” to chemo and radiation.
TYPES OF BLADDER CANCER
- Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is the most common bladder cancer in dogs, representing 90% to 95% of all bladder tumors. Also called invasive urothelial carcinoma, it is similar to invasive bladder cancer in humans. Because TCC arises from the transitional epithelial cells that line the bladder, it can invade any part of the urinary system (kidneys, ureters, prostate, or urethra). If it invades the urethra or ureters, it can obstruct urine flow. In dogs, this tumor invades the deeper layers of the bladder wall, including the muscle layers, requiring full thickness surgical excision. Unlike people, who often develop low grade bladder tumors, dogs often develop the higher grade invasive form of bladder cancer that can grow more quickly and spread throughout the body.
- Leiomyosarcoma is another bladder cancer found in dogs. It arises from the smooth muscle tissue found in the bladder wall.
- Rhabdomyosarcoma is a very rare, malignant, metastasizing urinary bladder tumor seen in both dogs and cats.
BREEDS AT RISK FOR TCC
Data reveals certain breeds have a much higher chance of developing TCC than others, but no one has studied the role of epigenetics or the impact that a grass fed/finished, balanced, species-appropriate diet may have on lowering the risk of developing TCC.
Scottish Terriers have an 18- to 20-fold higher risk of TCC than other dogs, as noted by investigators at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. The Shetland Sheepdog, Beagle, West Highland White Terrier, American Eskimo Dog, Keeshond, and Wire-haired Fox Terrier are three to five times more likely to develop TCC than other breeds.
Other species identified as high risk include the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Border Collie, Lhasa Apso, Parson Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, and Russell Terrier.
CAUSES OF TCC
An allopathic perspective
Though the “data” make it look as if some dogs have a genetic predisposition to the disease, genetics actually account for fewer than 5% of cancer causes. Meanwhile, epigenetics (lifestyle factors) may have up to a 90% influence on whether or not the cancer actually expresses itself. However, out of all the literature I looked through, only one from Purdue implicated toxins (herbicides and pesticides sprayed on lawns) as a possible contributor to the disease. No one mentioned diet or epigenetic factors, or discussed the root cause of the disease.
High exposure to toxins (in diet, water, environment), stress, electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), and obesity are known to increase the risk of developing bladder cancer. Cigarette smoking is considered the number one cause of bladder cancer in humans. Dogs living in homes where owners smoke may be at increased risk of developing bladder cancer.
A bioregulatory perspective
All cancers are caused by a deficiency of essential nutrients, an increased level of toxicity that the body is unable to deal with, or a combination of both, along with mitochondrial dysfunction.
TRADITIONAL THERAPIES FOR TCC
- Full thickness surgical intervention may be considered if the mass has not metastasized beyond the bladder and is located away from the trigone (several vital structures in the neck of the bladder will prevent surgical excision of tumors in this location).
- Chemotherapy or radiation are chosen if surgery is not an option. Common chemotherapeutic agents for TCC include Doxorubicin, Mitoxantrone and Vinblastine. These are often given in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories that are thought to have some anti-TCC activity.
The list of potentially harmful side effects to these medications would be an entire article by itself. The side effects of radiation on the bladder, when given in traditional doses, can lead to complications such as a scarred, shrunken bladder, and damage to surrounding organs.
Additionally, these traditional therapies are palliative, not curative! Using these modalities, survival time is considered six to 12 months.
THE BIOREGULATORY APPROACH TO TREATMENT
The bioregulatory approach to treating bladder cancer is rooted in prevention, supporting the innate intelligence of the body, and identifying the root cause when disease is present.
- Stop polluting the body! Evaluate food, water, environ- mental toxins, and EMF. Avoid processed foods and non-organic ingredients, as well as tap water, or water stored in plastic. Switch the dog to a species-appropriate, organic, grass fed/finished, balanced raw diet. Use highly filtered structured water.
- Supply all essential nutrients (amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids) in a biologically available form. Essential nutrients are those that must be obtained from the diet.
- If the dog is faced with health challenges, give high doses of pancreatic enzymes with meals, and between meals on an empty stomach.
- Heal a leaky gut using herbs, homeopathics, and humic/fulvic products.
- Support a healthy microbiome. This may require a fecal matter transplant as well as supplementation with organic fermented foods.
- Detoxify all six organs of elimination. It is critical to ensure these elimination pathways are operational before starting cancer therapies, as otherwise the patient will likely become sicker! Particularly important are the liver (all three phases of liver detoxification) and the lymphatics (movement and drainage).
- Clear trapped emotions associated with the “dis-ease”. If you’re not familiar with this concept, work with an experienced practitioner. All dis-ease involves trapped emotions!
BIOREGULATORY PRINCIPLES FOR HEALING
Shift the patient into a parasympathetic state. This is the only state in which the body can detoxify and heal. I find a variety of frequency therapies highly effective. The frequencies produced must be in the Pica Tesla ranges (very low and in harmony with the body’s natural frequencies). Various frequencies have other beneficial effects on circulation, detoxification, cellular health and more.
Reduce/control inflammation. Galectin-3 is the body’s master alarm protein. Small amounts live intracellularly, supporting cell development, growth and communication. Galectin-3 directs cells to respond to threats and injuries. When activated by pathogens, stress, injury, illness, or even normal aging processes, it unleashes a cascade of biochemical inflammatory signals and chain reactions that result in inflammation and fibrosis (uncontrolled scar tissue build-up), severely damaging organs and tissues. This chain reaction reaches down to the cellular level, fueling cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, immune suppression, and sepsis.
Galectin-3 is called “The Guardian of the Tumor Microenvironment” because it promotes tumor growth, protects cancer cells from the immune system, and helps cancer cells metastasize. Worse, too much circulating Galectin-3 can block proper healing, making it harder to manage or recover from disease. I use a specific modified citrus pectin that blocks Galectin-3, lowering inflammation and making the cancer tissue visible to the immune system.
- Turn on the body’s ability to make more glutathione (the primary antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory). Ozone therapy accomplishes both these functions. It can be administered with IV or insufflated into the bladder or rectum. Intermittent fasting is another hormetic stress that can help increase glutathione production.
- Consider that animals (and people) are light beings. The body is designed to biochemically work best when exposed to the visible light spectrum. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses photoactivate compounds administered intravenously, followed by intravenous laser therapy using the colors of the rainbow (ultraviolet, blue, green, yellow, red and infrared) to make the products more enzymatically active. PDT with high-dose vitamin C, curcumin, and mistletoe is highly effective against many types of cancer.
- Improve energy (ATP) production and detoxification. Full spectrum (with low EMF) infrared therapy for at least 30 minutes daily has a profound effect on the mitochondria (increasing the citric acid cycle and ATP production). It also releases nitric oxide, which is important in vasodilation and is a redox signaling molecule. Improve oxygen utilization in tissue. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) helps increase oxygen perfusion into the tissues and improves detoxification. Soft side chambers have made this modality safe and cost effective. For optimal results, daily dives are recommended.
- Utilize the natural anti-cancer pathways the body already has in place. Pathways in the body recognize and kill cancer cells. The cytochrome P450 enzymes, including cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1), can activate specific photonutrients and trigger apoptosis in abnormal cells. Natural compounds such as salvestrols (found in several fruit skins or plant roots) and B17 (found in many foods such as apricot seeds, mung beans, and cassava) are activated and metabolized into products that selectively kill cancer cells. These products trigger cancer cell apoptosis, leaving normal cells unharmed.
- Use anti-angiogenesis therapy. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels, which when occurring near cancer cells provide them with oxygen and nutrients. This allows the cancer cells to multiply, invade nearby tissue, and spread to other areas of the body (metastasize). Anti-angiogenic therapy may prevent the growth of cancer by blocking new blood vessels from forming, ultimately starving the cancer cells. Angiogenesis inhibitor therapy may stabilize the tumor and prevent it from growing further, or reduce the size of the tumor. By starving the cancer cells, they become more vulnerable and easier to kill. More than a dozen products with anti-angiogenic properties are available in the US. I use a nanoparticle indocyanine green (ICG) that can be photoactived (PDT) with infrared light, given intravenously, for enhanced efficacy.
- Provide nutraceuticals that support normal biological function. This category is huge but I will share some of my top picks: homotoxicology, herbs (Chinese and Western), thymus extract, black seed oil, mushrooms, low dose naltrexone, and CBD.
- Utilize hormetic stressors to facilitate repair and regeneration of healthy tissue. Hormetic stressors are short bursts of biological stress that improve the body’s ability to repair and adapt. Strategies include intermittent fasting, high intensity exercise, and extreme temperature exposures (cryotherapy or hyperthermia).
NO THERAPY SHOULD BE WORSE THAN THE DISEASE
Allopathic medicine has many great attributes. We were well trained to identify symptoms, to “name it and blame it”, and find a pharmaceutical, chemo, radiation, or surgical fix. However, based on the extraordinary rise of all degenerative diseases in pets, it is painfully apparent that these solutions are not working. Standard allopathic therapies not only fail, but the side effects are often worse than the disease itself!
We can no longer approach disease as an isolated symptom. The canine, feline, or human body is a complex biological network of interconnected components (molecules, cells, tissues, organs). Bioregulatory medicine is an integrative approach that takes into consideration everything from lifestyle to biology and provides the foundation for health and longevity in all species. To learn more about this approach, visit Dr. Marlene Siegel.
Dr. Siegel is an avid speaker and an innovator in integrative veterinary medicine. Her practice, Pasco Veterinary Medical Center, offers the widest array of alternative therapies and detoxification services in the country. She developed her own raw pet food company and supplements EvoLoveRaw.com. Passionate about education, she has on line programs for pet parents and veterinarians to teach integrative vet medicine. She is launching S’Paws Family Wellness in 2021, detox centers for pets and their parents.