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Tiny beads are changing the way some veterinarians deal with cancer. These beads are effective, cheap and have few side-effects. Are they too good to be true?
Around 2008, I came across a new option to complement cancer surgery. Results have been impressive. Until then, chemotherapy and radiation therapy were the two main solutions offered after removal of cancerous tumors, just like in people. Both treatments may cause side-effects, and they can cost thousands of dollars.
About the chemo beads
Chemo beads cost a fraction of any other option. Veterinarians are now able to place tiny cisplatin-impregnated beads around the tumor site. Cisplatin is then slowly released from the beads, which are reabsorbed by the body over 4-6 weeks. Cisplatin is a common chemo drug, normally used with an IV in our canine cancer patients.
Unfortunately, cisplatin can be deadly in cats, but by including a minuscule dose in the beads, veterinarians are now able to eliminate the former side-effects.
The beads measure 3 mm in diameter, or about 1 tenth of an inch.
The limitations of the chemo beads
Although cisplatin beads are often effective at preventing or slowing the cancer from coming back, they do not prevent spreading (metastasis), e.g. to the lungs. Fortunately, some of these tumors do not spread readily to begin with.