Have you ever wondered if dogs and other animals can get cancer too? Well the answer is yes. Cancer is actually one of the biggest causes of death for pets. Veterinary oncology is an important field in animal care because it contains both the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in animals.
Just like diagnosis of cancer in humans, animals are given similar procedures like biopsies (tissue collection), fine needle aspirates, radiographs, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans and other procedures. These procedures are used in order to find the source of the animal’s health problems. There are many veterinary oncologist specialists who can help the animal through this process. The most frequently diagnosed type of cancer in animals is skin cancer. This is because of the frequent exposure of sun to the animal’s skin, and they are easy for veterinarians to see because they occur outside the animal’s body. Other common types of tumors are lymphoma, osteosarcoma, mast cell, mammary, bladder, among others.
If an animal is diagnosed with cancer, the treatment plan can vary. Factors that go into the treatment plan decisions are the tumor’s aggressiveness or grade, and the stage of the tumor. Blood tests may be taken as well. At this point it is important to define “good quality of life” for the pet. The next step is to figure out how to cure or help the pet. Surgery is a possibility but it is not always the best treatment for cancer in every situation. Tumors may need a multitude of things to remove such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy, or any combination of these.
At this stage, it is important to keep the Veterinarian in the know on everything. Some foods and medicines could have harmful interactions with the advised treatments and will change the treatment plan. Depending on the type of treatment and cancer, pets may respond differently. However, side effects to chemotherapy and radiation are not easily compared to the side effects of humans. This means that there is no easy answer to how each individual pet will respond to each treatment, which can make diagnosis and treatment plans difficult.
But have no fear there are many organizations and specialists who focus on the field of veterinary oncology. It will be a tough process for all involved, but patients should know and take comfort in the fact that a knowledgeable professional will help them and their pet through the process.