A 10 year-old cat named Cyrano, often called "Ratty" by his family, was diagnosed with cancer in his leg in March. After some investigation, Cyrano’s owner, Sandra Lerner, discovered the Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center, which has been using a revolutionary radiation treatment called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) – a treatment that precisely destroys tumor cells and is designed to prevent the need to amputate. While the treatment has been used on 37 dogs, all of which displayed complete eradication of the tumor site, the treatment had not previously been used on cats.
Lerner, who is co-founder of Cisco Systems, flew her cat from his home in Virginia to Fort Collins. On arrival at the center, a full-body CT scan revealed that the bone cancer was restricted to the cat’s femur. Under normal circumstances, amputation might have been considered, but at 28 lbs, there was concern that he would not be able to support his weight without all 4 legs. Treatment followed, including 3 radiation treatments and some chemotherapy. The private treatment is thought to have cost Lerner about $15,000.
Cyrano is now recovering at home with the other pets of the Lerner household, including 3 cats and 1 dog, and continues to be treated with chemotherapy. And Lerner is keen to use her significant wealth and contacts to help raise the profile of the center’s treatment. Her public relations specialist, Kathy Savesky, will be visiting Colorado State University in May to discuss how Lerner can help to fund clinical trails for new treatments for animals with cancer.
Colorado State University advises that warning signs of cancer in pets include abnormal lumps or swelling anywhere on the body, sores that do not heal, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite, offensive odor, loss of stamina, or difficult urinating, defecating or breathing.