257 Bath Road, Brunswick, Maine 04011 • 207-729-4164 • petvet@bbvet.com

Professional care
with a personal touch

Professional care
with a personal touch

Professional care
with a personal touch

Professional care
with a personal touch

Professional care
with a personal touch

Help! My pet has cancer!

Hearing that your pet has cancer is scary, and unfortunately, becoming more and more common. A cancer is a tissue mass characterized by persistent, excessive, and disorganized cell growth that is unresponsive to normal control mechanisms. Cancer is a leading cause of death in dogs and cats. Sadly, the specific causes are not generally known. As a result of improved owner and veterinary care, pets are living much longer and thus are more susceptible to diseases of old age, such as tumors. Compared to people, dogs develop tumors twice as frequently, but cats only half as frequently. If your pet is thought or known to have cancer, a consultation with a veterinarian experienced in oncology can provide you with valuable information regarding treatment options and expectations.

chemocloseupCurrently, treatment of cancer in animals can often result in fairly lengthy, good quality remission times. That still means that for many types of cancers, their return is inevitable. This fact must be contemplated and discussed before you and your veterinarian decide to treat your pet for cancer. Having reasonable and accurate expectations will provide a more positive experience for all those involved.

Is It Worth It?

This is a difficult question for us to answer. Every situation and client-pet relationship is different and must be dealt with individually. The patient’s quality of life is of paramount importance to virtually every owner, as well as for us. Each treatment path must be carefully charted to enhance, as well as extend patient survival. What we can say is that most pets do indeed appear to enjoy their extended life period and do not even realize that they are “ill.” However, the owner(s) must believe that they are doing the right thing for their pet and for their situation.

How much will this cost?

If love could pay for veterinary care, all of our pets would be perfectly healthy! Unfortunately, that is not the case and there is a cost associated with keeping our pets healthy, and helping them when they are ill. As an owner, we consider you part of your pet’s medical care team and want to work with you to ensure that we are doing what is right for the pet, and affordable for you. Since each pet and type of cancer is different, the initial consultation will provide more insight into options and costs associated with your pet’s disease. Should you decide to pursue therapy, we would be honored to treat your pet. Together, we will work as a team to determine how your pet’s disease will be best managed. Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive and compassionate care possible.

Types of Treatments for My Pet

Chemotherapy: is the use of certain drugs alone, or in combination to control tumor growth. All of the drugs currently given to animals are human anti-cancer drugs. Fortunately, many of the negative consequences of their use in human medicine are not experienced in veterinary medicine. Chemotherapy and/or surgery are the two most important treatment modalities in veterinary cancer medicine. A combination of therapies may also be indicated in certain cancers. Some cancers require a specific, brief number of treatments, while others requiring ongoing treatment to maintain remission. More recently we have access to “targeted” therapies which have the ability to use a pet’s own immune system to defend against certain types of cancer – with little or no side effects.

Radiotherapy: or “radiation” therapy is available at large veterinary institutions such as New England Veterinary Oncology Group (Waltham, Massachusetts), Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine (North Grafton, Massachusetts) and Angell Memorial Animal Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts). It consists of the use of a radioactive beam to damage and/or kill malignant cells in a localized area. It can offer good quality remission times for many types of tumors, but usually not cure. Animals are surprisingly tolerant of radiation therapy.

Surgery: surgical removal of tumors is a very common and valuable approach for solid tissue tumors. It can be used for soft tissue as well as for bone tumors. It can sometimes be curative on its own, if the disease process is localized and detected very early.