Dichloroacetic acid, DCA, is an acid that has been studied as a potential cancer treatment by using the salts and esters of the compound. Cancer cells use oxygen in a different way than normal cells to preserve their survival and not die (apoptosis). In laboratory tests it has been shown that DCA makes cancer cells revert back to the original way of using oxygen, leading to their destruction. Dichloroacetic acid can be purchased for use and it has been studied in the treatment of dog cancer but it is not advisable at this time for your dog.
Despite the studies that have had favorable results with certain types of cancer, there are side effects that need to be taken into account:
1. Some tests have shown that DCA actually increases the growth of colorectal tumors in mice. Using it could actually cause more harm than good.
2. At high doses, DCA can cause neuropathy (damage to nerves in the extremities that make people feel like their hands and feet are tingly or “numb”), neurotoxicity (changes in the way the nervous system functions), and an abnormal gait pattern (walking). This does not bode well for people who want to try giving DCA to the dog themselves without any supervision.
3. Presently, long term use of high doses DCA is showing the potential of causing liver cancer in humans, which means it may be a carcinogenic. However, many chemotherapies that are used today are carcinogens that can possibly cause secondary cancers like leukemia, sarcomas, TCC of the bladder, etc. Localized radiation is also a carcinogenic. However, these treatments have been used for years despite that and DCA may be determined to be an effective treatment of certain cancers in the future.
We all want a cure to be found for cancer and many desperate people and dog parents are willing to try any “new” thing that they have heard about. But it is not recommended that you just try anything to help your dog. Consult your vet and talk about these studies and different treatments to see if they might be a fit in your own dog’s unique case.