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A New Treatment Approach for Jenna

Jenna is a friendly 9-year-old mixed breed dog who helps her owner, Paul Rosenberg, run a small business, in Chapel Hill. Every day, she’s with Rosenberg in their shop, playing a key role in maintaining good customer relations — through tail wags and enthusiasm.

After more than eight years on the job, though, Jenna began to show signs that something wasn’t right. Last spring, Rosenberg noticed that Jenna started panting strangely in the middle of the night. Then she seemed to be excessively thirsty. As time went by, Jenna’s panting and thirst got worse. Finally, in early June, Jenna wasn’t able to control her bladder. That was a first.

Initial testing at Jenna’ primary veterinarian in Carrboro didn’t detect any problems. Then, an ultrasound revealed a tumor on her adrenal gland. That discovery led to an immediate referral to the NC State Veterinary Hospital

Jenna’s first stop: the medical oncology service. Surgery was considered, but further examination found that tumor had also invaded the vena cava, the major vein carrying deoxygenated blood back to the heart. That creating an 80 percent blockage, making surgery risky.

While weighing options, Jenna’s condition worsened; medication only helped a little.

That’s when consultation with Mike Nolan, assistant professor of radiation oncology and biology, raised the possibility of stereotactic radiation therapy. A relatively new treatment approach, SRT allows veterinary surgeons to precisely target a tumor with a stronger doses of radiation without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

Making the decision easier was the availability of financial assistance, thanks to a grant from the Petco Foundation. NC State received the grant to assist pet owners facing expensive treatments in cases that offer the opportunity to advance educational and scientific knowledge.

Over two weeks, Jenna received a series of SRT treatments from Nolan and resident Leanne Magestro. The results have been beyond Paul’s expectations. Rosenberg said he saw improvement within two weeks after the treatment, with Jenna getting back to her normal activities after a month. The size of Jenna’s tumor has reduced tremendously and the outlook is excellent.

“This was a wonderful and humane treatment,” Paul says. “She was really close to dying and she’s been happy ever since. It’s been amazing. We are so grateful to live near a wonderful facility like NC State and also to have access to the assistance from the Petco Foundation funds. That has made all the difference.”

~Steve Volstad/ NC State Veterinary Medicine