Mushrooms may help dogs that have cancer

One in four dogs will develop cancer this year.

It is a devastating diagnosis for any animal lover, especially if Fido has one of the most aggressive forms: hemangiosarcoma.

It is a type that typically kills in less than 90 days.

However, there is a possible lifesaver: an ancient Chinese mushroom. As it turns out, it is helping man too.

Life without their dog Max would be unimaginable for the Walter family.

Christy Walter says, "He’s very sweet. He's a good, good buddy."

Max was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer of the spleen known as hemangiosarcoma.

"It was very hard,” Christy says.

Max's vet shared the grim news.

Christy says, "This is how long he has. He has one to two months. There's a trial you can try."

Max enrolled in a new clinical trial at Penn Vet that is testing an ancient Chinese mushroom.

Dr. Dorothy Cimino-Brown, Professor of Surgery University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says, "this could be really, really major."

Researchers found dogs treated with a compound from the yun-zhi mushroom known as PSP had the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with the deadly disease.

Going from maximum two-months with no treatment, to several dogs living over a year with only the mushroom as a treatment.

Dr. Cimino-Brown says, "what we saw was so unexpected and so dramatic and the potential implications of it are huge."

Including helping humans fight cancer. For now, the Walters are thankful for their extra time with Max.

Christy says, “and good time, quality time, not he's lying there sick time."

Researchers were extremely surprised with the results of the study.

So surprised, they went back to make sure the dogs had cancer to begin with.

Right now, there are products with PSP on the market for humans.

They are supplements, and not regulated by the FDA.


REPORT: MB # 3741

BACKGROUND: Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an extremely aggressive type of cancer which affects mostly dogs, but sometimes cats. The cancer's origins are in blood vessels; this means tumors can be present anywhere in the body blood vessels are present. The most common place for the cancer to grow is in the spleen, although it can also be seen in the heart, liver, muscles, lungs, brain, or kidneys. The disease generally comes on later in life, the average onset being around 9 or 10 years. German shepherds are the breed most commonly diagnosed with HSA, but other large breeds like Golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers are also commonly diagnosed. (Source:
SYMPTOMS: Because HSA is so aggressive, by the time symptoms begin to show, the cancer is in its advanced stages and very little can be done. These are some of the symptoms your dog might show:
* Weakness, lethargy, or collapse
* Lack of appetite
* Weight loss
* Bloated abdomen
* Nose bleeding (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers at University of Pennsylvania are testing whether a compound in an ancient Chinese mushroom can help dogs beat HSA. The mushroom, called Yun Zhi, has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Researchers isolated a compound called polysaccharopeptide, or PSP, and began giving it to dogs with advanced HSA. The dogs given the compound daily showed the longest times ever recorded for advanced HSA. Some dogs were able to live more than a year on simply the compound. The next step is testing whether the compound has similar effects in humans (Source:

Rene Newman
Clinical Trials Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine

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