Portland Veterinary Specialists
The oncologist recommended Canine Melanoma Vaccine for my dog. What will it do? How does it work?
Canine Melanoma Vaccine alerts the immune system to the presence of melanoma proteins, which results in the immune system fighting the cancer cells. In conjunction with surgery and/or radiation to treat the initial tumor, this immune response may help extend the survival time for most dogs. The melanoma vaccine is not meant to replace surgery and/or radiation therapy but is intended to be used along with these therapies
Since this is a vaccine, does that mean my dog can get it as a preventative? Should my dog receive it every year with other vaccinations?
Currently, this vaccine has only been tested as a therapeutic vaccine, for use with dogs that have oral melanoma. Most experts believe that the incidence of canine melanoma is too low to justify preventive melanoma vaccines for all dogs.
How and where is the vaccine administered? Why are four doses of the vaccine necessary?
The vaccine is administered into the inner thigh muscle of the dog with by a needle-free injection. Initial treatment requires administration of four doses of vaccine, one every two weeks. After this initial series, dogs receive one booster dose every six months. Each time dogs receive a dose, their immune response becomes stronger in the fight against melanoma.
Is injection of the therapeutic vaccine with the device painful for my dog?
Based on observations made during administrations, dogs do not react to the vaccine in a way that would suggest the vaccine is any more painful than a traditional injection.
What are the risks and side effects associated with my dog receiving Canine Melanoma Vaccine?
A temporary, low-grade fever or redness and swelling at the injection site may be observed in some dogs. These side effects do not require any treatment and resolve quickly. No other clinically significant safety issues were observed in safety studies used to support product licensure.
Will this therapeutic vaccine extend my dog’s life? By how long?
Dogs with advanced melanoma (stages II, III and IV) have a reported survival time of less than five months when treated with standard therapies. While the effect of therapeutic vaccines varies from one animal to another, most dogs with Stage II (tumors between 2-5 cm) and III (tumor with metastasis to local lymph nodes and/or greater than 5 cm) disease, that have participated in vaccine studies, have recorded improved survival times of one year or more.