Up until just recently, when a man’s best friend is diagnosed with cancer, such as hemangiosarcoma, even if the dog received chemotherapy treatment the prognosis was extremely guarded for living a long, full life. Hemangiosarcoma is relatively common in dogs, and is usually fatal.
At this point, this cancer, which is an aggressive tumor of blood based organs and tissues such as the spleen, remains incurable. Unfortunately, over the past two to three decades, there has not been any significant advancement in the standard of care for dogs with hemangiosarcoma, and early detection is rare due to the lack of effective testing for the disease. By the time the tumors have become large enough to detect, the cancer has often already progressed to advanced stages.
Within the past few years, however, there have been promising findings for owners of dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, according to a study conducted by Jennifer Reetz and Dorothy Cimino Brown, two faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The study revealed that canines that were treated with a compound which was derived from the mushroom Coriolus versicolor, exhibited the longest survival times that have ever been reported for canines suffering from hemangiosarcoma. The compound is usually called Coriolus PSP, or PSP for short.
According to the study results, the median survival time of the dogs that were tested increased as the PSP dose increased, and the longest median survival times that were reported to date were linked to the dogs that were on the highest dose of PSP. In other words, the higher the dose of this mushroom compound supplemen, the longer the dogs survived with the cancer. Additionally, the dogs receiving the highest doses exhibited slower progression of the cancer in comparison to the dogs receiving chemotherapy.
Chinese medicine has been using the Coriolus versicolor mushroom (Yun-zhi mushroom) for over 2,000 years now. Standardized, purified polysaccharopeptide (PSP) is the compound that is found in the mushroom which is considered to provide immune-boosting and liver detoxifying properties. Just in the past twenty years, studies have theorized that this compound also exhibits tumor-fighting properties.
While the Yun-zhi mushroom has been known in China for centuries, the Western world only recently became aware of it. When studies exposed the chemotherapy and radio-therapy reducing properties that the mushroom demonstrated, clinical trials in the Western part of the world ensued.
In random double-blind clinical trials, humans who were undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments took Yun-zhi for two months. These human subjects experienced tremendous improvement in the reduction of radiation and chemo side effect symptoms such as nausea, poor appetite, vomiting, fatigue and sweating. Yun-zhi also helped stabilize the white blood cell counts of these patients. Overall results of treatment revealed an efficacy rate of 83% to 86%.
Currently there is a clinical research trial at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine involving a supplement derived from the mushroom compound called I’m Yunity. This will be a randomized, controlled, single phase study that will compare the effects of the supplement to standard care chemotherapy. Most likely, the results will not be published for at least another couple of years, but at least the research institutions are starting to recognize herbal and alternative therapies as actual possibilities in the treatment of canine cancer.
So, while dog owners may still be left in the dark regarding a cure for hemangiosarcoma, the Yun-zhi mushroom supplement gives us a glimmer of light. If we can prolong the time that we have with our cancer-stricken canine friends for several months (or maybe even up to a year) with the assistance from the natural supplement derived from the Coriolus versicolor, we will have more time to accept their fate while we spend quality time and provide them with the best final months of their life that we possibly can.
At Acupet Veterinary Care, we routinely use mushroom therapy in our cancer patients (mushroom therapy can help most types of cancer, not just hemangiosarcoma). CAS Options is a pharmaceutical-graded derivative of several different species of mushroom, and we’ve seen tremendous benefit in those cancer patients we have on it.