Few words evoke the depth and variety of emotions as the words cancer or malignancy. Despite the initial shock of hearing those words, there are many treatment options for dogs and cats diagnosed with cancer. The primary goal of all treatment is to ensure the best quality of life for as long as feasible.
Deer Creek Animal Hospital provides a full-scope of pet oncology services, led by Phyllis C Glawe, DVM, MS ACVIM. As a board-certified cancer specialist, Dr. Glawe provides consultation, diagnosis, and treatment planning for the diverse types of feline and canine cancer.
Meet Our Specialist in Pet Cancer
Dr. Glawe is a board-certified veterinary oncologist with more than 17 years of experience in treating pets diagnosed with cancer. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1989 from The Ohio State University and was trained in veterinary oncology at Colorado State University.
Recognizing Cancer Symptoms in Your Pet
Warning signs include skin lumps or sores that do not heal; changes in appetite, urination, or bowel habits; unusual bleeding or discharge; persistent cough or difficulty swallowing; foul breath; and persistent severe lameness (despite treatment with medication).
Diagnosis of Cancer in Companion Animals
Although early detection of a cancer is challenging in animal patients, there are wonderful tools available for determining the diagnosis and staging of a malignancy. (Staging refers to determination of the extent of the cancer in the rest of the body.)
The most important initial tool is a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian. Further common diagnostic tests include cytology (a small needle sample of fluid obtained from the tumor/cancer is examined under a microscope), blood and urine analyses, diagnostic imaging (X-rays, ultrasound, and so on), and biopsy (a piece of tissue is obtained and analyzed by a pathologist).
All of these diagnostic tools are available at Deer Creek Animal Hospital. Information about the cancer, as well as the overall health status of your pet, is determined and used to develop a reasonable and compassionate treatment plan.
Options for Pet Cancer Treatment
Today there are many good options for cancer treatment. As with human cancer, pet cancer treatments vary and will be customized to your pet as well as the type of cancer and its progression. We will also consider the patient’s current health and the owner’s preferences regarding treatment. Deer Creek’s team will work with you to evaluate the best course of action.
Specific Cancer Treatments Might Include:
- Surgery—The oldest form of cancer treatment and generally the most successful for many types of cancer.
- Chemotherapy—Various types of drugs are used to kill cancer cells, delay their growth, and, in some cases, relieve pain. Such medicines can be given alone or in combination with other drugs. Forms of administration include injection, intravenous infusion, or oral. Chemotherapy in animals is generally well tolerated, does not cause discomfort, and, in most dogs, does not cause hair loss. Frequency and duration of chemotherapy treatments vary according to the cancer being treated and the patient’s general health status.
- Immunotherapy—Treatments use the patient’s own natural defenses to fight cancer. In veterinary medicine, this is a relatively new field of cancer treatment. The most recently developed form of this treatment is a vaccine for canine oral melanoma cancer.
- Palliative care—The goal of this form of treatment is to relieve the suffering of cancer patients. Therapy is typically administered through oral medications; however, surgery and radiation can also play a role in this form of management. Although commonly thought of as “end-of-life” treatment, palliation is supportive care during the patient’s entire course of treatment.
Modes of Cancer Therapy Also Available Include:
- Radiation therapy—This is a targeted local treatment in which high-energy radiation beams are used to destroy cancerous cells. Veterinary patients generally must undergo a brief anesthesia with each treatment to minimize damage to surrounding normal tissue while the energy is delivered appropriately. The number of treatments varies according to the cancer type, previous treatment used (such as surgery) and the patient’s general condition. If radiation therapy is indicated, we will refer you and your pet to the appropriate institution for treatment.
- Other types of therapy—There are more specific types of therapy available for veterinary cancer patients, such as bone marrow transplantation. These measures are less commonly employed, but may apply in certain circumstances.
- We will also integrate complementary therapies, such as laser, acupuncture, and supplements to promote healing and enhance patient wellbeing.
Read more about pet cancer, including making treatment decisions, from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
Appointments with our pet oncologist take place on Fridays. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.