UVM Veterinary Hospital Performs its First Successful Electrochemotherapy Surgery for Dogs

Lua, a dog diagnosed with a histiocytoma (benign skin tumor) in her right limb, is on the path to recovery thanks to the UVM Veterinary Hospital, who successfully performed a surgery using electrochemotherapy.

Medical professionals said the treatment is non-invasive, has no side effects, and can undo most tumors in a single surgery.

“With electrochemotherapy, a small incision is opened inside the tumor. From there the medication enters directly, enhancing its effects and thereby accelerating the death of the tumor”, said Dr. Denner Santos, a Veterinary Physician from Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Brazil, who collaborates with the Laureate Network.

During the procedure, an anticancer drug called Bleomycin is given to the patient. After five minutes, when the maximum concentration of the drug around the tumor is reached, a special procedure applies electrical pulses of up to one thousand volts to the tumor.

Doctors say this technique is more accessible than traditional methods and can cure cancer without the need for more aggressive procedures, such as an amputation. Santos also said it’s possible to apply it to different types of cancer.  Skin tumors, oral, liver, prostate, or intrathoracic tumors could also be treated through electrochemotherapy. In the latter cases, the voltage is suitably adjusted down to a maximum of 400 to 500 volts.

One of the advantages of electrochemotherapy compared to traditional chemotherapy is that it does not have any side effects. The procedure takes about 10 minutes and, once the dog or cat wakes up, it can go home and continue with its life. “There is no functional damage for them,” Santos said.

Monica Samperio, a specialist at UVM Veterinary Hospital, said that the equipment to perform electrochemotherapy is expected to arrive at the end of the year. The specialized medical staff of the Veterinary Hospital at UVM is currently being trained to successfully apply the procedure.