Of the 65 million dogs living in the United States today, as many as two million may develop the deadly cancer known as hemangiosarcoma, and die, often within six to eight weeks of diagnosis.
Hemangiosarcoma originates in the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels and spleen, which makes it a silent killer as it goes undetected before showing the following symptoms: nosebleeds, tiring easily, weakness, pale color of the mucous membranes of the mouth and eyes, increased respiratory rates, abdominal swelling and depression. Some dogs actually die with no clinical signs being noticed by their owners.
This cancer affects mostly middle-aged dogs, and although it can occur in any breed, is most common in golden retrievers and German shepherds. One in five golden retrievers will die from hemangiosarcoma.
For over 2,000 years the Chinese have used the coriolus versicolor mushroom, known commonly as the Yunzhi mushroom, for its immune-boosting properties believed to be made through the compound polysaccharopeptide, or PSP. Over the last twenty years some studies have suggested that PSP also has a tumor-fighting effect. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is fortunate enough to have two women that took this suggestion a step further, in wondering if PSP could help people or animals live longer.
Dorothy Cimino Brown, professor and chair of the Dept. of Clinical Studies and director of the Veterinary Clinical Investigation Center and Jennifer Reetz, an attending radiologist in the Dept. of Clinical Studies pursued a study of dogs with naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma. Fifteen dogs participated in the trial, divided into three groups of five dogs each. Each group received a dose of 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day of I’m-Yunity, a formulation of PSP that has been tested for consistency and good manufacturing processes.
The results were extremely encouraging. On average the median survival time of a dog with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen which underwent no treatment was 86 days. Even though chemotherapy can treat hemangiosarcoma, it’s expensive, requires a lot of back and forth to the vet’s office, doesn’t extend the survival time of the dog that much, decreases their quality of life and is expensive. Because of that, most owners opt not to proceed with chemo, and thus lose their dog within a few weeks. Dogs in the study, treated only with I’m-Yunity and no other treatment, lived beyond a year and with little to no side-effects.
Complete results of the study are available at http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/384301/