Each year millions of pets are diagnosed with various types of cancer. Thankfully, the veterinary oncology field is experiencing growth in both diagnostic and treatment options. As with all forms of cancer, early diagnosis can be the difference between life and death, as well as determining what options may be available for treatment. Veterinary Oncologists (those specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer) are now available within driving distance of most residences across the United States. Many pet owners are faced with the decision of how to treat their pet once they are diagnosed with cancer, and a referral to a specialist is frequently one of the first steps in that decision.
Gone are the days when a pet’s best chance of survival or prolonged quality of life left surgical mass removal as their only treatment option. While mass removal is still utilized and remains the only option for certain forms of cancer, less invasive options are now available too. Much like humans, pets may have an option of chemotherapy or radiation in order to treat their cancer. A majority of cancer medications utilized in pets are the same treatments designed for human use; however, in 2010 the first cancer treatment medication designed specifically for use in dogs with Mast Cell Tumors (MCT) was released, bringing the hope that additional pet specific treatments may be on the horizon. Since Veterinary Oncologists specialize in cancer treatment, they are familiar with various forms of cancer, what treatment options are available for that cancer, and are more likely to have access to newer treatments as they become available.
Oncologists are also a likely source of information for owners and families on the stage or severity of their pet’s cancer. Cancer staging is typically used to describe the severity of cancer in a patient and is often categorized by numbers I-IV (IV being the most progressed stage) or TNM (which stands for Tumor – typically referring to size of the primary tumor, lymph Node involvement, and Metastasis). The type of staging used is often dependent upon the form of cancer that is present.
We encourage you to check back throughout the month for additional information on cancer diagnosis and detailed information on the various options that are now available to your pet.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on Veterinary Oncology or visit: http://www.vetcancerspecialists.com/
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff