Basal cell cancer is a type of skin cancer affecting dogs. It generally affects middle or older aged dogs.
Epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. The basal membrane forms the innermost layer of the skin. Basal cancer is disordered growth of cancer cells in the basal membrane of the skin. The benign form of the basal cancer is known as basal cell tumor.
These tumors are generally found on head, neck and forelimbs. These tumors appear as elevated masses, and are often hairless and ulcerated. They can penetrate into the skin, destroy skin tissue and cause pus paving way for inflammation and infection.
The malignant form is known as basal cell carcinoma. They are less common in dogs but certain breeds such as Scottish Terriers, Saint Bernards are at risk. They differ from basal cell tumors by two points: they can affect any area of the body and they do not appear as raised masses. However they spread forming new ulcers.
Cryosurgery or simple surgical excision is a form of treatment. The success of the surgery depends on whether the tumor is fully excised.
How does turmeric help in basal cell cancer in dogs?
The principal property of turmeric that makes it beneficial in treatment of basal cell cancer is its anti-cancer property. Additionally its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties help in preventing secondary infection and inflammation.
1.Turmeric kills basal cell cancer cells
Researchers at National Taiwan University have found that curcumin kills human basal cell cancer cells. It does so by increasing the activity of a protein named p53. P53 is a tumor suppressor protein and it acts by controlling cell cycle and growth of cancer cells.
In presence of DNA damaging agents, it increases cell death of cancer cells. This study showed that curcumin specifically acted only on p53 protein and not on any other protein involved in cell cycle regulation to kill basal cancer cells.
Researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have found that topical curcumin is as effective as oral curcumin in skin cancer prevention and treatment. Dietary curcumin is found to be effective in preventing skin cancer.
What does this mean?
Curcumin and related compounds, curcuminoids have been found to be useful in treatment of skin cancer. Dietary curcumin is found to prevent skin cancer. Research shows that curcumin destroys skin cancer cells by activating tumor suppressor protein p53.
2.It has multiple ways of targeting cancer
Curcumin does not have one specific pathway of killing cancer cells. Research shows that it can manipulate as many as 20 biochemical targets in order to kill cancer cells and prevent them proliferating.
Curcumin has anti-tumor (prevents tumor formation), anti-proliferative (prevents multiplication of cancer cells), chemopreventive (prevents initiation or relapse of cancer) and anti-cancer (kills cancer cells) properties.
- Reduces the activity of inflammatory cytokines
- Regulates the activity of transcription factors like nuclear factor kappa B that control growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
- Regulates the activity of cell cycle proteins
- Increases the activity or proteins that are involved in cell death and lowers the activity of cell protective protein
- Regulates the activity of enzymes involved in cell proliferation
Turmeric and curcumin have been used topically to treat cancerous lesions in humans. This finding can be extended to treatment of basal cell cancer in dogs.
What does this mean?
Curcumin has potent anti-cancer activity which acts via various biochemical pathways to kill cancer cells without affecting normal cells and does not cause adverse effects.
3.It helps in treating skin damage
Researchers identify curcumin as a novel treatment for skin disorders due to its ability to treat chronic pain, inflammation, fast wound healing and anti-microbial action.
A recent study published in Phytotherapy Research covers a review of 234 studies investigating the role of turmeric in skin disorders. There is sufficient evidence that shows that both oral and topical curcumin /turmeric is beneficial in skin health.
Curcumin has skin regenerative potential that can help in healing the ulcer like masses occurring in basal cell cancer.
What does this mean?
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and skin regenerative potential help in treatment of skin disorders.
4.It has anti-inflammatory property
Basal cell carcinoma consists of ulcers which at later stages destroy skin tissue and tend to release fluids or pus which can cause skin inflammation.
- It inhibits the activity of nuclear factor kappa B- the main protein that controls inflammatory process.
- It counteracts the activity of inflammatory enzymes such as COX and LOX.
- It inhibits the activity of inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins, interleukins and TNF-alpha.
These properties can help treatment of ulcers and skin inflammation occurring in basal cell cancer.
What does this mean?
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory property can help in controlling skin inflammation occurring in the ulcers of basal cancer cells.
5.It has anti-microbial and wound healing property
Curcumin has broad spectrum anti-microbial properties– it acts against bacteria, fungi and viruses. It acts against common bacteria that cause infections like Staphylcococcus aureus, Streptococcus and E.coli.
Turmeric is effective against drug resistant strains of bacteria such as MRSA. This property of turmeric is highly essential in protecting the basal cell cancer lesions as well as post surgical wounds.
Curcumin has excellent wound healing property. It reduces the time required for wound healing, improves collagen deposition and increases the activity of fibroblasts (a type of skin cell) that enhances normal and impaired wound healing.
It increases the activity of transforming growth factor-beta, a multifunctional protein that controls immune response and its activity is implied in various disorders like cancer, heart disease and obesity. In wound healing, it accelerates the remodelling phase of wound repair.
Curcumin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property contributes to its skin regenerating potential. This property is extremely valuable in healing of wound after surgical excision.
What does this mean?
Curcumin’s wound healing and anti-microbial property can aid in protecting skin cancer lesions from secondary infections. It can also help in healing of post surgical excision wounds.
There is no such set dosage of turmeric for basal cell cancer in dogs but we have covered the details of turmeric dosage for dogs in Turmeric Dosage For Dogs-The Definitive Guide.
Based on the table you can ascertain the amount of turmeric powder your dog should get as per his weight. Always go for good organic turmeric powder and refrain from giving capsules or pills.
After deciding the amount of turmeric powder and dosage go for the following recipes:
This is for ½ cup turmeric powder. Take ½ cup turmeric powder and 1 cup water in a pan and gently stir over a low flame. This can take 7-10 mins. Adjust the water quantity based on the thickness of the paste.
Add 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper and 70 ml coconut or olive oil. Cook till all ingredients are mixed well.
Based on the table above you can start with small doses (1/4 to ½ teaspoon based upon the dog’s weight) and slowly build the dose based on your pet’s tolerance. 1-2 teaspoon twice a day seems good.
This paste should be fine for 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
In fact you don’t need to make a separate Golden Paste for your pet. You can just use the same one that you make, and based on the dose suggested for your pet’s body weight you could feed him that amount.
However to make the paste more palatable and less spicy add boiling water to the paste and mix to form gravy like consistency. Let this cool down and then add it to your dog’s food.
You could also add turmeric to your dog’s treats, but baked goods are not likely to reach the therapeutic efficacy that The Golden Paste would.
Topical application of turmeric
Since basal cell cancer presents with external cancerous lesions, you can also apply turmeric topically. Based on the size of the lesion take organic turmeric powder (1/4- ½ teaspoon) and mix it with adequate quantity of olive or coconut oil. These oils are beneficial in treatment of cancer.
Apply this paste at least 2-3 times a day over the lesion. It would take at least a week to see visible results. In case of increase in ulceration or bleeding or excessive discomfort discontinue the use.
Always start your pet on small doses and build the dose gradually over weeks. If you observe any side effects discontinue turmeric.
Some say that black pepper can irritate stomach lining of dogs, while some pet owners have not seen any such side effects. So please see if your dog can tolerate turmeric with black pepper or give him turmeric with fat only. That will still make turmeric bioavailable in his body.
Dietary turmeric should not pose any problem but if you are skeptic please avoid it prior to any surgical procedure that your pet may be scheduled for.
Turmeric is said to work as binding agent so do add lots of water to avoid constipation.
If your pet is pregnant, turmeric might act as a mild uterine stimulant so it is advisable to avoid turmeric then. However there is no study which proves this.
Consult a vet before starting your pet on turmeric.
Curcumin’s anti-cancer activity makes it an effective adjunctive treatment for any form of cancer. Research in humans shows that curcumin can terminate basal cell cancer.
Additionally its skin regenerative property, anti-inflammatory property and anti-microbial property can help in treating other symptoms as well as avoiding complications. Topical application of turmeric can hasten wound healing of tumors.