Chemotherapy is one of the standard therapies used to treat cancer. The goal of chemotherapy is to control or eliminate cancer while maintaining the highest quality of life for your pet. Chemotherapy drugs help control cancer by killing cells and preventing their growth and ability to divide and spread. Unlike humans, the side effects of chemotherapy in pets are relatively mild and most pets maintain an excellent quality of life.
Your pet will be treated using a specific “protocol,” which refers to a set of specific drugs given in a specific sequence and over a specific time frame. Your pet's oncologist will calculate the most appropriate drug doses and treatment schedules to effectively fight cancer while minimizing any discomfort to your pet. Drugs may be given daily, weekly, or every 2 to 3 weeks. Some chemotherapy drugs must be given directly into the vein (intravenously). Others may be administered under the skin (subcutaneously) or into a muscle (intramuscularly).
Many chemotherapy protocols involve a series of treatments, followed by a monitoring period with scheduled recheck examinations with your pet's oncologist. He or she may change your pet's chemotherapy protocol during treatment to achieve the best outcome. A multimodality approach that includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and alternative therapies may also be used, similar to how cancer is treated in people.
While chemotherapy has many benefits, it is considered a hazardous drug and therefore must be handled with extreme caution and care. At Hope Veterinary Specialists we employ the state-of-the-art closed chemotherapy administration system, Phaseal, to help reduce occupation exposure, thereby protecting our staff and patients. Furthermore, our group is in compliance with the new USP800 standards to help reduce occupational and environmental exposure of hazardous drugs. Our goal with each patient is to ensure safety first. In accordance with this goal we have a double check system in place for dosing and administration of these drugs, only individuals with extensive training can handle and administer these drugs, and we practice low-stress handling techniques we learned during our certification class through PennVet CALM to ensure that the patient is comfortable during the procedure.