Researchers like Mason are seeking ways to use the innate ability of dogs to find and destroy cancer cells. Their efforts are aided by dogs’ unique ancestry: because of selective breeding, different breeds can have predisposed genetics to certain diseases, such as lymphoma in golden retrievers and glioma in Boston terriers. This diversity allows researchers to test drugs in dogs that may not work in other animals, such as mice.
In October, PolitiFact published an article about a man who claims that he was cured of his cancer by taking a dog dewormer known as fenbendazole (sold under the commercial name Panacur). Some peer-reviewed studies have found fenbendazole has potential to treat some kinds of human cancer and recommended further study. But federal agencies told PolitiFact that the National Cancer Institute has no evidence of fenbendazole curing cancer and the Food and Drug Administration has not authorized fenbendazole to treat cancer in people.
A caller to our Listener Line asked us whether a dog dewormer might cure her dog’s cancer. Our chief medical editor Nancy Reese took on the question, but she couldn’t answer right away. So, she consulted with our experts.
The first thing to know is that most cancers in dogs aren’t as common as in humans, so it’s hard for many pet owners to recognize the signs of a serious problem. But Troutman says you should keep a close eye on the basics: changes in eating, drinking and urinating, wounds that don’t heal, unusual bleeding, and behavioral or emotional changes. Dogs are also better suited to participating in cancer trials than humans because, unlike some human patients, they don’t need to have recurrent cancer or have had standard treatment before being recruited for research. And, as a bonus, if your pet has to undergo chemotherapy or surgery, the research trial usually covers the cost of care. dog dewormer cancer