RADIATION THERAPY AND CYBERKNIFE
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer in your pet can be devastating. Various treatment options are available, however, depending on your pet's specific condition. One option that might be recommended is radiation therapy, the use of high energy beams of radiation directed at tumors. Radiation therapy is used to treat solid cancers in the body including (but not limited to) tumors of the skin, nose, brain, mouth, bones, and gastrointestinal system. Some cancer treatments are aggressive, while other treatments may be more palliative in nature and seek to control symptoms associated with a tumor and improve quality of life. The type of radiation therapy prescribed for your pet will ultimately depend on the type of tumor and location within the body as well as your goals for treatment.
Hope Veterinary Specialists offers conventional radiation therapy, as well as more advanced forms of radiation including intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), also known as stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT):
- IMRT is a new technology that delivers radiation more precisely to the tumor while relatively sparing the surrounding normal tissues, essentially “painting” doses of radiation to a target (your pet’s tumor). IMRT has wide application in most aspects of radiation oncology because of its ability to create multiple targets and avoid critical structures. By delivering radiation with greater precision, IMRT has been shown to minimize acute treatment-related side effects, making it possible to increase the therapeutic dose and ultimately improve local tumor control. IMRT has shown promise in veterinary medicine, specifically for nasal tumors and urogenital tumors. Most IMRT protocols are fractionated, meaning that the total dose is broken up in multiple fractions, or treatments. The number of treatments can vary from 4 up to 20 in some cases. These treatments may be administered daily or once weekly for up to 4 weeks.
- SRT is a noninvasive way to deliver radiation to tumors with submillimeter accuracy, enabling treatment with greater precision than traditional linear accelerators and IMRT machines. Hope VS uses a type of stereotactic radiation unit known as CyberKnife, which utilizes a robotic arm to deliver the entire therapeutic dose to an animal in 1 to 3 treatments, compared to conventional radiation therapy, which can employ up to 20 treatments. The robotic arm allows movement around the animal to target a tumor and spare normal surrounding tissue. This not only allows the treatment to be delivered in a shorter time but also decreases side effects to an almost unrecognizable level. CyberKnife technology also allows us to treat tumors, such as lung or liver tumors, that haven’t historically been treated with radiation. The end result is a more precise treatment, a significantly reduced number of anesthetic episodes, fewer visits to the hospital, and a better quality of life for our patients and clients. To learn more about this therapy, please visit www.vetcyberknife.com.
Our radiation oncologists have extensive training and experience using traditional radiation therapy or SRT alone to treat tumors, or, in the case of certain tumors, a combination with chemotherapy or other immunotherapy to induce a greater tumor response. We utilize advanced imaging modalities including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which help visualize the tumor and its surrounding anatomy, as well as state-of-the-art 3-dimensional treatment-planning equipment. Patients are treated using a linear accelerator (LINAC), which produces and focuses a beam of radiation precisely where the tumor is located. Because your pet's safety is important to us, we follow rigid quality assurance practices for each patient and each individual treatment to ensure the highest quality delivery of radiation.
To ensure that your pet receives the comprehensive care that cancer treatment requires, our radiation oncologists and nurses work as a team that also includes your primary care veterinarian and often a veterinary specialist such as a neurologist, medical oncologist, or internal medicine specialist. A team-oriented approach is paramount to ensuring successful therapy. During treatments, your primary care veterinarian and referring specialist will be kept apprised of your pet’s protocol and any updates or changes to the prescribed plan. After radiation therapy is over, you will be provided with a plan for future rechecks or recommended imaging such as CT or MRI scans. It is important that you maintain contact with your primary care veterinarian for future preventative care after radiation therapy is completed.
Our radiation oncologists are available by appointment Monday through Friday 8am-4pm. To schedule an appointment, please call Veterinary Cyberknife Cancer Center at 844-738-2927.
For more information about pets and radiation therapy, please read our Radiation Oncology FAQs (below).
I can't say enough about the care my dog, Sweet Pea, has received at Hope. All of the staff are so welcoming. We were treated with kindness and caring throughout our visits. Dr. Hadley Bagshaw and Dr. Christine Mullin are experts in their fields who thoroughly explained my dog's condition and test results. I am so glad to have found Hope, and confident in the doctors' ability to care for Sweet Pea. Thank you!!
Beverly Hershey | Wayne, PA