Frequently Asked Questions
This will depend entirely on what kind of cancer your pet has. In most cases, we work toward achieving “remission” for your pet rather than a cure. Remission is reached when the patient has no symptoms whatsoever from the original cancer. It is not considered a cure because the majority of cancers will recur at some point in time. So Oncologists tend to talk in terms of probability of remission, and survival times. These will, vary widely depending on the kind of cancer your pet has, at what stage it has been caught, as well as other factors such as where on the body the cancer is located. The central focus in caring for any pet with cancer is always on their quality of life.
Depending upon the type of cancer, your veterinarian and our Oncology staff will advise you as to which of the three major modalities (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation) are best for your pet. It is not common for all three modalities to be used together, but often combining two modalities can be far more effective than one alone.
Surgery is used to remove, or partially remove (called “debulking”) discrete masses, either from inside a body cavity, or from the pet’s body wall or extremity.
Chemotherapy is used for widely disseminated, or multifocal cancers. Chemotherapeutic drugs are carried by the bloodstream to all parts of the body, so it is ideally suited to treating cancer on a body-wide basis.
Radiation therapy is used to treat focal tumors that are either not surgically removable, or when the family has elected not to pursue surgery, but still wants to treat the cancer, or the pain the cancer is causing. You can read more about Radiation Therapy here.
Fortunately, chemotherapy for pets is experienced very differently than it is for humans.
While practically all anticancer drugs have side effects, they would not be used if their potential effect against the cancer did not outweigh the possible side effects. When side effects do occur, they typically are not nearly as severe as those that occur in humans. Because of this, and because our Oncologists are prescribing protocols based as much on their potential side effects as on their efficacy against tumors, we feel that chemotherapy can be perfectly appropriate and therapeutically humane. We simply would not recommend it otherwise. And we see hundreds if not thousands of success stories every year.
Potential side effects of chemotherapy drugs may be:
1. Loss of hair. This is unpredictable and can vary from no hair loss to complete baldness. This is NOT as common in animals as it is in people because their hair does not grow continuously throughout their lives. In any breed, areas in which the hair is shaved will be slow to re-grow.
2. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite. It usually occurs 2 to 7 days after chemotherapy treatment. Anti-nausea (anti-emetics) are available to help avoid this potential side effect.
3. Low blood counts. This is not a problem unless infection occurs. The time at which the white blood cell count is lowest is usually 5 to 7 days after treatment. Your pet may need oral or intravenous antibiotics.
Radiation therapy usually has minimal side effects, and is generally limited to local changes in skin: hair loss, discoloration, swelling (often times appearing much like a sun burn in a fair-skinned person). All potential side effects will be discussed with you prior to treatment.
With great improvement in diagnostic technologies, cancer is now more widely diagnosed in pets than ever before. Fortunately, Care Center has the newest technology available to treat dogs and cats with cancer.
A diagnosis of cancer is never easy. Our compassionate, highly trained staff is here to help. Care Center has the board-certified specialists and latest equipment to provide whatever treatment is best for your pet. We will assist you every step of the way to select the course that will provide your pet with the best quality of life.
At Care Center we treat many forms of cancer and have a variety of treatment options available, including but not limited to surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Treatment options include the following, individually or in combination:
Removal of a cancerous tumor through surgical intervention is usually the first choice. Or, surgery may be the first step in a multi-modal treatment process. If surgery is not an option, other modalities are considered, either alone or in combination. Our team of board-certified surgeons will help guide you through the evaluation process and collaborate with the oncology team to formulate your pet’s path to recovery.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells. One of the most common treatments for cancer, radiation therapy can be given alone or used with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. At Care Center, we are able to provide whatever type of radiation therapy is best to treat your pet’s cancer.
Care Center is the only veterinary practice for over 500 miles that offers SRS, a groundbreaking treatment option providing new hope to pets with cancer. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is an advanced form of radiation therapy widely used in human medicine. It is a non-invasive, non-surgical, painless treatment in which high doses of precisely focused radiation beams destroy the cancerous tumor—without damaging nearby healthy tissue. This advanced technology, curative in nature, is making an enormous difference in the lives of pets and their families. SRS has been extremely effective in treating humans with cancer. Now, Care Center, in partnership with PetCure Oncology, is revolutionizing the delivery of radiosurgery for pets.
In addition to its potential to cure cancer, SRS offers other significant benefits:
PROVEN effective in human cancer treatment
CURATIVE intent for many tumors
CONVENIENT with fewer visits (1-3 treatments)
SAFER (less anesthesia
PRECISE targeting means fewer side effects
MORE types of cancer can be treated
Head and Neck
Pelvic Canal Tumors
If surgery was performed and not all of the cancer could be removed, Conventional Radiation Therapy (RT) may also be recommended. Conventional RT works by penetrating cancerous cells and destroying their ability to grow and divide.
Conventional RT is used with one of two goals in mind: remission, through definitive treatment, or pain relief, through palliative care. A definitive conventional RT protocol may delivered in fractions, e.g. 5 days a week over a 3-4 week time frame with the hope of achieving remission - the cessation of all clinical symptoms of the cancer.
Palliative treatment is given over a fewer number of fractions when definitive treatment is not possible. The intent is to improve the pet’s quality of life by making them more comfortable. The degree of pain relief varies from moderate to total cessation of pain.
PetCure: A Partnership with Benefits
Already the standard of care for treatment of a wide range of cancers in humans, our new equipment – a Varian Triology– gives us the option to provide any type of radiation therapy required. The Trilogy, plus our outstanding and experienced team of veterinary specialists, will provide the best possible treatment option for your pet’s specific type of cancer.
And, because we are open 24 hours a day, patients are always monitored by experienced emergency veterinarians. We are dedicated to providing all of our patients with the most complete and integrated cancer therapy possible while taking into consideration the needs of both the owner and their pet.
Some cancers are best treated systemically through chemotherapy, or via a more targeted approach, with immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy is essentially the administration of drugs that are designed to kill cancer cells. It may be given intravenously, by injection, or orally. Many cancer cells multiply very rapidly. Most chemotherapy drugs work by inhibiting the cells from dividing and thus, eventually killing them.
Pets experience far less side effects than what you may be accustomed to in humans that undergo chemotherapy treatment. And with advancements in supportive therapy, we can often head off any issues before they even begin. Some pets will feel a bit tired or not have as hardy an appetite for a few days after treatment, however many sail through with little change in behavior or demeanor. Talk to your pet’s oncologist about what you can expect for your pet.
Cancer may develop when the immune system breaks down or is not functioning adequately. Immunotherapy uses the body's immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy works by either stimulating your immune system to attack cancer cells or providing your immune system with what it needs, such as antibodies, to fight cancer.
Common types of immunotherapy include:
Monoclonal antibodies: These antibodies can be useful in treating cancer because they can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell.
- Cancer vaccines: Vaccines are substances designed to trigger an immune response in the body against certain diseases.
For more information, to schedule a consultation, or if you are a veterinarian and would like to make a referral, please contact Taylor Cull, Referral Coordinator, at (513) 530-0911. Concierge services are available to assist with travel arrangements.