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If Your Dog Has Cancer, This Podcast Can Help
HER2/neu Osteosarcoma Immunotherapy

HER2/neu Osteosarcoma Immunotherapy │ Dr. Sue Ettinger Q&A


Is there a new immunotherapy for dogs with osteosarcoma? Can you get your dog into clinical trials, or is it commercially available?

Episode Notes

There is a new immunotherapy treatment in trials for dogs with osteosarcoma, and today Dr. Sue Cancer Vet talks to Leo about it. This new therapy uses the HER2/neu target to stimulate the dog’s own immune system to go after osteosarcoma cells. It’s based on research out of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sue Ettinger explains a little bit about how it works and how to get Leo’s dog Luke into treatment.

Dr. Sue is co-author with Dr. Demian Dressler of our podcast sponsor, the book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Show:

To find out which veterinary hospitals were involved in clinical trials for the osteosarcoma immunotherapy trials, contact Elanco using their website:

For a summary article about the newest veterinary trials featuring immunotherapy, including the trial discussed in this episode on the HER2/neu target, see this article:

Here’s a link to the paper about the initial research on PubMed:

And here’s the press release about her vaccine from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine:

About Today’s Guest, Dr. Sue Cancer Vet:

Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinary cancer specialist, international speaker, book author, and YouTube vlogger (video blogger).  A dynamic and engaging speaker, she was voted the 2019 Western Veterinary Conference Small Animal Continuing Educator of the Year. She is one of approximately 450 board-certified specialists in medical oncology in North America and currently practices at Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk, Connecticut. She received her veterinary training at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed her residency in medical oncology at the Animal Medical Center in NYC in 2003.

Also known as Dr Sue Cancer Vet®, she is most passionate about raising cancer awareness and has developed “See Something, Do Something, Why Wait? Aspirate.®” to promote early cancer detection and diagnosis.  She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Veterinary Practice, Today’s Veterinary Business, Clinician’s Brief, Veterinary Team Brief, & DVM360.

Dr Sue loves to use social media to help clients and veterinary professionals deal with cancer in pets, including Instagram, her YouTube channel, and her popular Facebook page with over 38,000 fans.

Follow Dr. Sue on the Socials: 

Dog Cancer Answers is a Maui Media production in association with Dog Podcast Network

This episode is sponsored by the best-selling animal health book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity by Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger. Available everywhere fine books are sold.

Listen to podcast episode for a special discount code.

If you would like to ask a dog cancer related question for one of our expert veterinarians to answer on a future Q&A episode, call our Listener Line at 808-868-3200.

Have a guest you think would be great for our show? Contact our producers at

Have an inspiring True Tail about your own dog’s cancer journey you think would help other dog lovers? Share your true tail with our producers.


[00:00:00] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: I think it is something that’s going to significantly improve the survival times for dogs with osteosarcoma.

[00:00:08] >> Announcer: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers, where we help you help your dog with cancer. Here’s your host, James Jacobson.

[00:00:16] >> James Jacobson: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers. If your dog has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma that’s bone cancer, this episode is for you. On today’s question and answer show, we take a call from a listener regarding a new immunotherapy treatment that is being studied in dogs with osteosarcoma. First off, what is immunotherapy? Well, it’s actually pretty cool. According to the Cancer Research Institute, immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses the power of the body’s own immune system to prevent, control, and eliminate cancer. In the case of this particular treatment for dogs with osteosarcoma, it targets a protein called HER2/neu. And be sure to check the show notes for how to spell HER2/neu. Cancer researchers have been studying this HER2/neu target in both people and .Dogs for dogs, there has been a focus on osteosarcoma with a number of clinical trials.

[00:01:18] For more on this potential treatment, we speak with veterinary oncologist, Dr. Sue Ettinger, co-author of the book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Dr. Sue, as she is known, has some personal experiences to share about this. Here’s the question that we received from Leo who called in from San Francisco, California.

[00:01:38] >> Leo: Hi, my name is Leo. I’m calling from San Francisco, and my dog Luke was recently diagnosed with. osteosarcoma. We had his leg amputated and he just started chemo treatment today. And in the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot about immunotherapy treatment and just wondering how I could actually get in line for something like that.

[00:02:02] Is it only possible through a clinical trial? Are there treatments that are already commercially available? What’s the best way to find the best treatment for Luke. Thanks.

[00:02:14] >> James Jacobson: Dr. Sue?

[00:02:16] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: So it’s a great question. So this is a really exciting thing to know about. So there’s this immunotherapy that was developed at the University of Pennsylvania at the vet school. And so a couple of things to know about it. For Luke’s owner, you would definitely want to do amputation first for osteosarcoma and then traditional chemotherapy. And then we recommend doing the immunotherapy. The immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to then go after the osteosarcoma, the bone cancer cells.

[00:02:47] I actually just yesterday emailed the company that was doing the clinical trial to see where they were. So the hospital that I previously worked at was one of the 20 sites in the US that was running the clinical trials. So I actually do have some experience with the immunotherapy. It’s something that’s given three times, every three weeks apart, like I mentioned, after the chemotherapy. The clinical trial is now currently closed and they’re in the process of evaluating the data. So it’s not yet commercially available, unfortunately. So I don’t have my paws on it yet, but what I did find out from my contact at the company is that the sites that ran the clinical trials can still order the product and use it in new patients there. It just wouldn’t be part of the clinical trials so it’s not subsidized part of that. So the best thing for Luke’s owner to do would be to contact the company and then you can find out, I’m sorry, did he say where he was?

[00:03:47] >> James Jacobson: He’s in San Francisco.

[00:03:48] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Luckily he’s in a good Metro area. I’m sure that there was a site in Northern California. The company originally running the clinical trial was Aratana, but they were just bought by Elanco. So we probably would want to go to We can probably put a link in the show notes.

[00:04:04] >> James Jacobson: Yes. And we’ll put that link in the show notes.

[00:04:08] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: And then he’s probably gonna have to contact them to find out which hospital in his area is, you know, and then see if they still have the availability to do the immunotherapy. I’m really hopeful that it will be commercially available soon in the future, because I think it is something that’s going to significantly improve the survival times for dogs with osteosarcomas. So really, really exciting therapy for dogs.

[00:04:31] >> James Jacobson: And again it’s just for osteo.

[00:04:33] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Just for osteosarcoma. So it’s a very specific therapy because the target, this HER2/neu target, is something that’s expressed in the osteosarcoma cells. It is expressed in some other cancers in people and things like that, but it’s definitely something that, at this point, we are only using for osteosarcoma patients.

[00:04:53] >> James Jacobson: Well Luke. I hope that helps. And Dr. Sue, thanks so much.

[00:04:56] >> Dr. Sue Ettinger: Thank you.

[00:04:58] >> James Jacobson: Thank you so much, Leo, for your call. These listener questions are really helpful in guiding us in answering the questions that you have because after all this podcast is called Dog Cancer Answers. So we need some of your questions. So Leo, Dr. Sue basically recommends that you stick with your plan, amputation followed by chemotherapy, and then get in touch with Elanco to see if one of the vet hospitals that ran trials for the HER2/neu immunotherapy treatment in your area is still doing it. If it is in your area, they may be able to order the treatment for your Luke. The initial studies at Penn showed nice long life extensions, particularly for osteosarcoma, which is such an aggressive cancer. The clinical trial is closed now and they’re analyzing the data.

[00:05:47] That means that your vet may not know all the details about the side effects and the hard numbers yet, but of course, have your local vet guide you in your cancer journey because they’re the people who know both you and Luke. So good luck, Leo. Good luck, Luke. We wish you the best. And listeners, if you would like to learn more about the HER2/neu immunotherapy trials, go to our website at for the show notes to this episode and the links that can help you if your dog has osteosarcoma and you want to try this treatment that is still being analyzed.

[00:06:25] Do you have a question just like Leo did? Well, one of our veterinarians could answer your question on a future episode of Dog Cancer Answers. Please call our listener line and record your question. The telephone number is (808) 868-3200. That’s (808) 868-3200 or visit our website at On our website at Dog Cancer Answers, you can also listen to or download our back catalog of episodes. It’s the best way to get the information that you need to help optimize your dog’s life quality and longevity.

[00:07:03] In a moment, I will tell you about our next deep dive episode, which is a must listen for all dog lovers. And it could be a little controversial, but first, we’d like to thank our sponsor on today’s show, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide book by Demian Dressler and Sue Ettinger.

[00:07:21] The book is available wherever fine books are sold, both online and in physical bookstores. There’s a lot of information on osteosarcoma, as well as all the other major cancers, in the book. If you’d like to help support this podcast, get the book directly from the publisher, which is Maui Media. You can get the paperback with free shipping anywhere in the USA, or you can get the e-book edition for just 9.95. To get either the e-book or the paperback go to this website,

[00:07:52] And because you’re a listener to this show, if you use the promo code PODCAST, you can save 10%. That website again, Use the promo code PODCAST for 10% off at

[00:08:09] On the next episode of Dog Cancer Answers, we are exploring the question, when should I not treat my dog’s cancer? Some people on social media have been shamed and attacked for the personal choices that they’ve made regarding their treatment decisions. It raised the ire of one of our regular guests, Dr. Demian Dressler. And so we’ll be speaking with him about that. And we’ll be discussing the question that he posed in a recent article, "Is it wrong if I don’t want to treat dog cancer?". It’s an episode that you will want to hear. And the best way to make sure that you do hear it as soon as the episode is released is to subscribe to Dog Cancer Answers in Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app. We’re also on Spotify and on YouTube.

[00:08:55] I’d like to thank Dr. Sue Ettinger for being our guest today. If you’d like to reach her directly, her website is DrSueCancerVet. Until next. I’m James Jacobson from all of us here at Dog Cancer Answers, I wish you and your dog, a warm, Aloha.

[00:09:15] >> Announcer: Thank you for listening to Dog Cancer Answers. If you’d like to connect, please visit our website at, or call our listener line at (808) 868-3200. And here’s a friendly reminder that you probably already know, this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not meant to take the place of the advice you receive from your dog’s veterinarian. Only veterinarians who examine your dog can give you veterinary advice or diagnose your dog’s medical condition. Your reliance on the information you hear on this podcast is solely at your own risk. If your dog has a specific health problem, contact your veterinarian.

[00:09:51] Also, please keep in mind that veterinary information can change rapidly, therefore, some information may be out of date. Dog Cancer Answers is a presentation of Maui Media in association with Dog Podcast Network.

Dr. Sue Ettinger

DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

New York, USA

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Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practicing veterinary cancer specialist, international speaker, book author, and vlogger. She is also co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and a passionate advocate of early cancer detection and raising cancer awareness.