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Chemo Helps Local Dog Hold Off Cancer

The 8-year-old Golden Retriever is now in remission.

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - One in four dogs will develop cancer, It's the number one disease killer of man and woman's best friend. But just like it can in humans, cancer in canines can be effectively treated.

Jack is an eight year old Golden Retriever who's always up for an adventure, even when it's a trip to the veterinarian. But he's not here for a routine check-up. Jack's was diagnosed with cancer, when a lump was discovered, after he suddenly became sick.

"He has his own little couch, he was lying on this couch, he would not lift his head, he would not eat, he would not dirnk, he would not move," says Joe Murgo, Jack's owner.

Joe thought he was losing his best friend, but he discovered there was hope.

"If you had to have a cancer in a dog, lymphoma is usually one you'd try to pick," says Dr. Mark Koshko at Metzger Animal Hospital in State College. And he adds that Jack's type of lymphoma is pretty responsive to chemotherapy.

The vet prescribed a 19-week treatment regimen for Jack. It took a little longer, though because the Golden reacted badly to one of the drugs.

But overall, Dr Koshko says dogs suffer fewer side-effects from  chemo than humans. "The goal in humans is to kill every bad cell sometimes, regardless of the repercussions to the person, so a lot of people are sick. They don't have a lot of great quality of life," he explains. "In dogs, the goal is qualify of life so their dosage is much less than we would give to a human."

Before every treatment, Jack gets a blood test to make sure his blood counts are good  enough. Then, Dr. Koshko loads a syringe with a chemo drug, also taken by humans, and gives Jack an injection.

That's it, except for the changing of the bandana. Jack's awarded a new one after every treatment. He's in remission now, and that could last about a year.

Dr. Koshko says, "he should really go home for awhile and have a great life for awhile."

Joe's happy with the results of the treatment saying, "it is expensive i'm not going to pull bones about  it, but given the extension of life and how he's a normal dog, I wouldn't hesitate again in a heartbeat."

Jack's treatment will cost between $5,000 and $6,000. If the cancer returns, the family has the option of another round of treatment.

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