Cancer in Pets – how can we help?
When cancer is diagnosed in your pet for most of us our world falls apart and many questions will come forward to which no direct answers might be available.
In Al Barsha Veterinary Clinic we try to diagnose the ongoing cancer as specific as possible and to work with you to supply the best possible treatment available in Dubai and to support you and your pet’s situation in the most achievable way. Some cases require treatment somewhere else in the world, even then we can be of help and can give guidance.
Continuous improvements in cancer knowledge and new and evolving methods of treatment give options to owners and to us veterinarians to specify the treatment which works best on the cancer type and progression your pet is subject to. We however need to bear in mind that individual situations and responses vary, and cancers often behave unpredictably, therefore science can only give us a guide
In order to develop a plan best suited to this treatment the Vet will need further investigation to ensure:
- Confirm the original diagnosis
- Ensure quality of life of your pet during treatment
- Your pet can deal with the treatment (organ function, blood cell count e.o.)
- Your personal situation can deal with the treatment and secure safety for all involved
- The responsiveness of the cancer type for the treatment suggested
- The availability of the treatment in the UAE
- The Financial burden of the treatment on your family budget
- The life expectancy of the pet with and without treatment
What treatment can you expect:
- Palliative treatment
The main concern in deciding upon a course of treatment should be what is best for the quality of life of the pet. Sometimes, because of the type of cancer or its stage of progress, cure is unlikely. For these cases treatment may help alleviate symptoms, such as pain, and greatly improve the quality of the pet’s remaining life.
- Surgical Excision
Surgical removal is the most common treatment for cancers. In this case the lump is taken out during surgery, sometimes with part or all of the affected organ. In order to delay tumor re-growth or to ensure it won’t come back surgeons try to remove the tumor in toto, with clear margins, unfortunately this is not always possible. Surgery is widely available although complex procedures may require referral to a specialist. Recovery from most surgery is rapid and post- surgical pain is controllable.
- Other treatments
Special types of surgery, radiation treatment [radiotherapy], drug treatment [chemotherapy]) are not suitable for all cancers. Before selection or advice on these alternative treatments, there must be an accurate diagnosis of the cancer type and its extent in the animal. Cancer treatments often have significant side effects and many are available only at specialist centers, or are still under development for use in animals.
The UAE is still developing oncologic treatment for pets and do not have specialist centers for this specific requirement yet. Many of the more commonly used chemotherapy is also not available for use in animals currently.
Common approaches of treatment
- Local therapy (surgery, laser therapy and radiotherapy) for cancer that is apparently confined to a well-defined area in an accessible site.
- Systemic (whole body) treatment, usually chemotherapy, for tumors that are widespread, or for which there is significant and immediate risk of spread from the initial location.
- Mixed or multimodal therapy (use of several types of treatment in combination or using cocktails of anti- cancer drugs) sometimes offers the possibility of maximizing cancer cell killing.
Together with your veterinarian you will discuss and conclude which treatment suits the situation of your pet best.
Special forms of surgery
What type of tumors are there?
- Benign tumors are non-invasive, non-spreading cancers in a well-defined area and in an accessible location. They are almost always permanently cured by surgical removal.
- Malignant tumors are aggressive (different gradations) and invasive and spread out of original location. Surgery is also the best treatment for the majority of malignant cancers that have not yet spread (metastasized).
- Metastasized tumors are tumors that have spread from their original location and add to the typing of tumors to different stages. They can often not surgically be removed and require more specialized approach and have poorer prognosis.
More on this topic will follow soon, do you have questions on this blog or would you like to discuss your concern for your own pet, please contact us directly via firstname.lastname@example.org