Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cat's cancerous leg saved - medical science advances

It sounded like a death sentence. Sandy Lerner's 10-year-old cat, Cyrano, was diagnosed with cancer in his leg, and at 28 lbs., wouldn't survive comfortably without all four limbs intact. If amputation wasn't an option, how could she save her beloved pet?

After some research, Lerner stumbled upon the Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center. There, the doctors took on the task to save Cyrano, affectionately known as "Ratty," through tereotactic radiosurgery, a revolutionary radiation treatment done by machine believed to have only been used on dogs.

"They asked if I minded that he would likely be the first cat to do this," Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems and Urban Decay cosmetics, tells "But somebody had to be first."

In March, shortly after Cyrano's diagnosis, Lerner flew with her kitty from Virginia to Fort Collins, Colo. "Immediately they did a full-body CT scan, and realized his cancer was localized to his femur, which was lucky," she recalls. "They decided to give him three radiation treatments and some chemotherapy, as well."

Dr. Christine Hardy, director of operations at the Animal Cancer Center, says that while it's unusual to see that type of cancer in a cat, her team of doctors was up to the challenge of saving Cyrano. "We looked at all the information, history and treatment options we had available," she tells "We'd done this numerous times on dogs, so we applied what we'd learned toward treating Cyrano."

Though the clinicians, led by Dr. Stephen Withrow, were confident in their treatment, they knew Cyrano's weight would be a barrier to a healthy future if their plan faltered. "We were really concerned about his prognosis as a three-legged cat — that's a lot of cat to move around on three legs," Hardy says. "We thought if we could treat the tumor, and let him keep his legs, it'd be best for everyone."

Lerner and Cyrano stayed in Colorado for a week, cuddling in her hotel room each night after treatments were finished. "They couldn't have been kinder, gentler or more caring toward him," Lerner says of Withrow, Hardy and their colleagues. "They did exactly what they advertised." She declined to reveal the cost of the procedures.

Now recovering at home with his furry siblings — three cats, one dog, all rescues — Cyrano is basically considered cured. "The tumor is just gone," Lerner says. "We'll have to go in for regular checkups, and he has another few precautionary chemo treatments to take, but I have so much faith in his doctors. He's hardly missed a beat."


Inigo Flufflebum and d'Artagnan Rumblepurr said...

Well done Cyrano!

Janiss said...

I wish this had been possible in 2001, when my cat was diagnosed with the same bone cancer. It's good to know that treatment is being developed.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic story! Go CYRANO!

Brian said...

I agree, that is so pawsome my whiskers are still grinning!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's great!

Ayla and Iza, said...

Hurray fer Cyrano!

Jacqueline said...

YAY for Cyrano!!...This is wonderful news that they are making breakthroughs with cancer treatments in animals...Thanks for sharing this article...Happy Friday friends...xo...Calle, Halle, Sukki

meowmeowmans said...

That is AWESOME. Hooray for Cyrano! :)