Vaccine Induced Sarcoma and Neoplasene
Vaccine Induced Sarcoma - Little Angela's Story
Read the story of Little Angela - a cat that developed vaccine induced sarcoma after getting a feline leukemia vaccination. She was first diagnosed with vaccine induced sarcoma in April 2008. She has had 3 surgeries to remove the tumor so far, but it keeps coming back. She had her 3rd and last surgery to remove the tumor on June 23, 2010.
Vaccine Induced Sarcoma and Neoplasene Treatment
If you would like to read about Ang's life story and her surgeries to remove the tumor as well as facts about how to prevent vaccine induced sarcoma then click here: Vaccine Induced Sarcoma. Continue reading below to learn about her neoplasene treatments and our opinion as to whether or not it works.
If you've been following the story of little Angela, the cat diagnosed in April, 2009 with vaccine induced sarcoma, then you know that she recently had her 3rd surgery to remove the sarcoma. Unfortunately, vaccine induced sarcoma is very difficult to treat effectively through surgery alone.
The cancer often comes back even after the tumor is surgically removed. In one study at Cornell University, out of nearly 100 cats with vaccine induced sarcoma who had their tumors surgically removed, only about 13 percent of them were still alive after 2 years had passed.
Even radiation and chemo treatments are often ineffective in battling this feline cancer.
Because little Angela's cancer came back for the third time, we decided to try something different. We will document her progress here so that other cat owners who may have a cat with vaccine induced sarcoma may benefit from our/her experience.
Neoplasene Cancer Treatment
Angela's veterinarian told us about a substance that may (or may not) be effective in preventing her vaccine induced sarcoma from returning a 4th time. This treatment is neoplasene, a substance manufactured by Buck Mountain Botanicals.
Neoplasene has been shown to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. It seems to work very well on surface / external cancers (from what I've read), but it isn't as clear how effective it is on internal or subcutaneous cancers.
Neoplasene comes in 3 forms: injectible, oral, and topical. We are giving our cat, Angela, the oral form in the hopes that it will destroy any remaining tumor cells and possibly prevent the cancer from coming back.
Our Neoplasene Experience So Far
I just recently began giving her the oral neoplasene treatment and so I can't say for sure if it works to prevent the cancer from returning or not. However, I can tell you how she has reacted to the neoplasene so far.
Little Angela began her neoplasene treatment just a few days ago (on July 12, 2010). We let her heal up after her surgery before starting her treatment.
Oral neoplasene has a very low pH (around 2.0) and so it must be mixed with something else before giving it to your animal. The vet told me to mix it with jar gravy, baby food, or canned cat food, and give it to her via oral syringe. She gets .18 cc of neoplasene mixed with about 3-4 ccs of canned cat food twice a day.
At first I tried mixing the neoplasene with jar gravy because I thought that might be easiest. She absolutely hated it. When she knew I was going to give it to her she would run and hide and often seemed worried throughout the day that I was about it give it to her. She fought when I gave it to her (which really wasn't like her) and she would sort of gag.
I almost stopped the neoplasene treatment at that point.
I decided that before I gave up I would try mixing it with something else in case it was the gravy itself that she didn't like and not the neoplasene.
I started mixing the neoplasene in with a little canned cat food and putting that into the oral syringe. Sometimes I mix a tiny amount of milk in with it.
She seems to like this a whole lot better. Even though she still isn't thrilled with it, she doesn't fight much and doesn't seem to mind it nearly so much. I really don't think she'd react much differently to just a small oral syringe full of canned cat food with no neoplasene in it.
So far, the neoplasene has not made her sick. She acts perfectly fine the rest of the day (unless she thinks I'm about ready to give her some more neoplasene), and plays and does her normal "cat things". Her appetite is good.
I should also mention that cats given oral neoplasene are only supposed to eat canned food and not dry food. I'm not certain of the reason for this, but I believe it has something to do with the carbohydrates in dry food and absorption of the oral neoplasene. I do let her eat a little dry food at times when it isn't near the time for her neoplasene dose. I want her to continue to be happy, after all, and she likes her dry food too much to deny her of it completely.
Today is July 17th and so it has been about 5 days since her treatment began. So far, I don't notice anything different, and it hasn't caused any sort of wound where her tumor is/was.
The jury is still out on whether this will prevent her vaccine induced sarcoma from returning. I'm not totally pleased with giving her this treatment, but if I don't give her the neoplasene, then I'm almost certain her cancer is just going to come back. She is only 7 and much too young to die of her vaccine induced sarcoma and so I was willing to try the oral neoplasene treatment after her cancer returned for a 3rd time.
I will continue to give her the neoplasene, unless it starts making her sick.
I'll also be publishing updates on her progress with this treatment so that other cat owners who may have a cat with vaccine induced sarcoma will be able to make a more informed decision about whether to try this treatment on their cat.
October 2010 Update On Little Angela's Progress
I've received several emails recently asking how little Angela is doing with her vaccine induced sarcoma and neoplasene treatment - so here is the update:
I've continued to give her the 1.8 ccs of neoplasene twice daily, but I started mixing it with ham baby food because it is much easier to dispense and doesn't clog up the oral syringe like the canned cat food did. She seems to like this better anyway.
The reason I took so long to update this site on her progress is because I don't like what I have to report.
Shortly after I wrote the last update in July 2010, I noticed a lump in her general cancer area. Now there are two lumps.
It could be that this is scar tissue (she has had 3 surgeries in that general area) and so scar tissue is a possibility, but I don't really think that is what it is.
I think her vaccine induced sarcoma is back.
I still continue to give her the neoplasene because it doesn't make her sick or anything and it could be slowing the tumor down. She still seems to feel good, her appetite is very good, and she plays and acts completely normal.
Does This Mean Neoplasene Doesn't WorK?
Maybe. However, we did not follow the protocol exactly. If you look at the Buck Mountain Botanicals website and read through the literature you'll find that for vaccine-induced sarcomas that they usually suggests having your vet inject the neoplasene into the tumor, followed by a life-long daily dose of neoplasene and this is NOT what happened with Angela.
She has only been given the oral neoplasene. In addition, according to the vet I should have removed all of her dry food and only fed her canned food. I don't know how much of a difference this makes, but I allowed Angela to have some dry food each day because I wanted her to be happy.
However, I am thinking of discontinuing the dry food to see if this makes a difference. I have to weigh this decision on whether I think it will make a difference or not. I don't want to make her unhappy, especially if she doesn't have much longer to live.
I'll post future updates on her progress and any further treatments she may have.
December 2010 Update
Despite giving Angela the oral neoplasene twice daily since her last surgery in June 2010 her cancer has returned as I mentioned in the paragraphs above. Her tumor has grown larger and she has a vet appointment on December 18, 2010. I'm not sure what options are available for her at this point but after her appointment I'll post them here.
Angela had her vet appointment yesterday. Unfortunately, her vaccine induced sarcoma is attached to the underlying tissues (as opposed to only being in the subcutaneous layer) and so the vet said that surgery wouldn't help her at this point. The vet said perhaps increasing the dose of her oral neoplasene might slow down the tumor, but she isn't sure.
This is one of the problems with multiple surgeries for this type of cancer - each time surgery is done, as more and more tissue is removed, when the cancer comes back there isn't much left in there for the cancer to attach itself to that can be removed. This is one of the reasons that the best chance of success is during the first surgery.
At this point Angela is still feeling good and hopefully this will last a while longer. I can only try to make her as happy as possible in the time she has left.
Angela's April 2011 Health Progress Report
It's been two years since little Angela was diagnosed with her vaccine induced sarcoma. She is still alive 2 years later. She's had 3 surgeries and I've been giving her the oral neoplasene since July 12, 2010. I don't know if it has slowed the tumor growth or not. Her tumor is definitely back and pretty good sized too, unfortunately. She still eats and drinks, and plays, but it does seem to me that she plays less than she used to and spends more time sleeping.
I'd like to stop giving her the neoplasene because she doesn't like it, but I'm afraid to stop in case it is slowing down the tumor growth. I'd like to have her remain relatively healthy so that she could have one more nice summer. We have an enclosed front porch that she likes to play on in the summer and I'm afraid if I stop the neoplasene her tumor might grow faster and then she'd miss what is almost undoubtedly her last summer ever.
It almost seems to me that the neoplasene does absolutely nothing, but I don't know what her health would be like if she wasn't taking it daily.
It is such as shame that a vaccine had to cause all of this - she's only 8, and in my opinion, is the best cat ever! I know she has been my best friend for the past 8 years.
Angela's June 6, 2011 Health Progress Report
Unfortunately, for us, the neoplasene didn't seem to help with Angela's vaccine induced sarcoma, despite giving it to her twice daily for several months.
Vaccine Induced Sarcoma Progression
If you have a cat with vaccine induced sarcoma and it isn't able to be cured through surgery or some other means, here is what often happens: These tumors grow quite fast and large. They often outgrow their blood supply and when this happens it causes the tumor to ulcerate and open up which then causes a horrible looking sore that gets infected easily.
This is what has happened to little Ang. Her tumor outgrew its blood supply and the ulcerated tumor got infected and she became quite ill. I thought she was going to have to be put to sleep on May 17th, but with daily antibiotics and pain medication she is now doing pretty well (all things considered). The vet told me to stop giving her the neoplasene (probably because it didn't seem to be working).
How I Keep Her From Licking at Her Wound
To keep Angela from licking at her sore I put a baby onesie on her. I got the 0-3 months size and cut it a little so that it fits her better and isn't too tight in the shoulders. I put one of these on her when I have to leave the house for work so that she can't get to her sore while I'm not looking. I cut the snaps off the bottom of the onesie so that she doesn't decide to eat them, because with cats you never know :)
So for now, she is okay - She has to take antibiotics and pain medication every day, and with these, she is still eating and drinking and playing. But from the looks of her tumor, I don't think she has very much time left at all. She will be greatly missed by the entire family (other cats included).
Angela's August 1, 2011 Update
I had to take Angela into the vet on August 1, 2011 to have her put to sleep. By this time the tumor had REALLY outgrown its blood supply and it was starting to decay. Because of this it was starting to smell awful. Because of the pain medication she didn't seem to be in any real distress, but when I took her into the vet, the vet agreed that it was time to put her down.
Angela was the best cat ever! and I will miss her for the rest of my life.
She was only 8 years old when she died. And all this over a vaccine that was supposed to help her!
I tried everything I could to keep her alive and happy - 3 surgeries to remove the tumor, the neoplasene, prayer, but in the end nothing worked.
I'm still glad that I did everything I could to keep her alive and happy as long as possible.
She is greatly missed.