November Is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month
It’s important that pet owners familiarize themselves not only with the signs and symptoms of cancer, but also with the wide range of treatment options available. We here at HOPE are very fortunate in our ability to provide a wide range of cancer therapies, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, as well as palliative care options.
What Type of Cancer Treatment Is Right for My Pet?
The type of cancer therapy we recommend depends on the type of cancer the animal has been diagnosed with. Some of the most common examples include skin tumors, tumors within the bone, internal cancers in the liver, spleen, or lung, as well as immune system cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. One important consideration pet owners should keep in mind is that a treatment plan is NOT a contract—it can be revised at any time based on the needs of your pet and your family.
Surgery is a method of cancer treatment used to physically remove a tumor from an animal’s body. Surgeons perform their work in a sterile environment in order to excise the tumor and seal the wound without the risk of infection. Some surgeries can be very minor while others might involve the amputation of an entire limb. While the latter may sound scary, it can actually be a great option for pets who are suffering from pain caused by tumors that invade the bone. In such cases, surgery can provide an instant relief from pain, and most pets adapt to the change in mobility within a few short days. It’s really inspiring!
Radiation therapy is a type of treatment that uses targeted beams of energy to deliver a high dose of radiation to a cancerous tumor while minimizing the radiation received by the healthy, normal tissue surrounding it. Radiation therapy can be used for many different types of tumors but is generally most effective when the tumor is localized. For tumors that are particularly small or in a challenging location of the body, we use a special robotic tool called a CyberKnife to attack the tumor with pinpoint precision. To learn more about radiation therapy, read our full blog post here.
Unlike radiation therapy, chemotherapy is generally used to combat cancers that have moved or spread within the body, as well as cancers that affect the body in its entirety, such as immune system cancers. Chemotherapy treatment can include pills prescribed by your vet to be administered at home, or injections or IV infusion performed onsite. Most onsite chemotherapy treatment options do not require your pet to undergo anesthesia and the risk of side effects is generally low.
Palliative care is a type of treatment that addresses the symptoms of cancer to improve comfort and quality of life in situations where complete recovery may not be possible. Palliative care treatment can include medications, supplements—even massage therapy and acupuncture—as well as some of the treatment options described above to alleviate nausea, diarrhea, anemia, pain, and lethargy resulting from cancer.