It can be a very overwhelming and difficult time when your pet is diagnosed with cancer. Meeting with an oncologist is your first step to obtain more information and support. During your appointment we will discuss your pet’s diagnosis, further testing needed, treatment options and prognosis. Our role as the Oncology team is to provide you with options for management of your pet’s cancer and to implement your choices. Our commitment is to improve your companion’s quality of life and to do so in an atmosphere of caring and compassion. We pledge to work with you and your primary veterinarian to offer the best in veterinary care for your pet.
Angell’s Oncology Service works collaboratively with the Angell Anesthesia and Pain Medicine Services to provide maximum comfort and safety to our patients. In addition, Angell’s soft tissue surgeons are among the most experienced in the world, working together with Angell oncologists to effectively treat mast cell tumors and other oncological conditions.
Unique to Angell is our routine use of Vascular Access Ports to more comfortably administer treatment (less needles!), our side-effect-limiting Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), and our Stereotactic Radiation Treatment that reduces the number of radiation treatments required, are also distinct benefits to Angell’s offerings not found at most veterinary cancer centers in Massachusetts.
In parallel with human oncology there are various treatment options that can be used alone or in combination. Such therapies include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and immunotherapy.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is frequently used to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, to prevent or delay spread when there is a high risk of metastasis, to treat cancer that cannot be treated with surgery or radiation therapy alone or when it may enhance the effectiveness of these treatments.
Chemotherapy is the use of specific medications/drugs that kill rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells and some normal tissues in the body that also rapidly divide. Many of the drugs we use are also used in people but when used in animals the doses are lower and therefore veterinary patients tolerate chemotherapy better than human counterparts. The goal of chemotherapy is to slow the growth of cancer while allowing patients to have a good quality of life throughout cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy may be administered in a variety of ways including intravenous, under the skin (or subcutaneous), orally, or infrequently within a body cavity. The frequency of administration varies based on the chemotherapy medication that is used. Your oncologist will discuss the method and frequency of administration for your pet, based on the diagnosis and available treatment options for that specific cancer.
What is a Veterinary Oncologist? A board-certified veterinary medical oncologist is a veterinarian with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. After receiving a degree in veterinary medicine (DVM), s/he has completed an internship prior to post-graduate training in a residency program accredited by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and has successfully completed the testing and research requirements established by the ACVIM. A veterinary oncologist is an expert in the biology of cancer and specializes in the use of chemotherapy and biological therapies for the treatment of cancer. Veterinary oncologists work in close association with surgeons and radiation oncologists when a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer management is indicated.
Radiation therapy: Like chemotherapy, radiation therapy can be dosed and delivered in multiple ways. There are protocols designed to palliative pain and clinical signs associated with the tumor and there are others with the goal of long term control. Our hospital is excited to be the first site in New England to offer stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) on our new Varian TrueBeamTM system in addition to being first site that offered intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). To learn more about the different types of radiation click here.
For pets whose cancer treatment includes radiation therapy, our Varian TrueBeamTM system with a PitchPerfect 6 degrees of freedom couch allows delivery of radiation treatments with extreme accuracy. We deliver radiation via photons or electrons, using both conventional (electron beam and clinical photon radiation plans) and innovative radiation treatment plans (stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)).
Angell’s oncologists have in-house access to a large team of specialists in the fields of radiology, internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, ophthalmology, dermatology, nutrition, dentistry, and avian and exotic medicine for optimal patient care.
Angell is unique in offering Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic radiation therapy. Our radiation oncologist, Dr. Kubicek, has extensive training in both modalities. To watch a video of a dog receiving IMRT, click here.
Surgery is an important part of the treatment of many tumors. Angell’s Surgery service boasts five board-certified surgeons who are available for timely surgical intervention. When surgery is part of the cancer treatment, the surgeons and the oncologists work together to determine the best surgical plan for the patient.
Imaging tumors and determining their extent in the body plays a critical role in the diagnosis of cancer. Angell’s Diagnostic Imaging department provides state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging facilities, including radiography, helical computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and fluoroscopy. Three board-certified radiologists work closely with oncologists to provide accurate and timely imaging information about your pet’s cancer.
Key to optimal cancer diagnosis and management are laboratory and pathologic analyses of body fluids and tissues. Angell offers an advanced, full-service, on-site laboratory with Clinical Pathology and Histopathology services. The Pathology department is led by one double board-certified clinical and anatomic pathologist and a board-certified anatomic pathologist. Collaboration between the pathologists and the oncologists is an integral part of cancer care, and this is facilitated at Angell with on-site pathology services.
Oncology patients have access to Angell’s Pain Medicine service led by Lisa Moses, VMD, DACVIM, CVMA. The Pain Medicine service offers treatment for companion animals with discomfort that negatively affects their quality of life, regardless of their primary diagnosis. Dr. Moses is trained to work with patients with complex medical issues that complicate treatment for pain. She tailors individual pain treatment plans using novel drug therapy and non-drug modalities of treatment, including acupuncture and mobility exercises.
If and when oncologic emergencies arise, Angell’s Emergency and Critical Care service, with board-certified critical care specialists and residency-trained critical care veterinarians, is available to contribute its expertise to oncology patient management. Oncologists and critical care specialists work together to manage oncology patients when critical care is needed to maximize the chances of a full and speedy recovery. The emergency service is open for walk-in visits 24 hours a day seven days a week. The state-of-the art Angell Critical Care Unit offers 24-hour nursing care and doctor supervision.
Angell offers a full-service pharmacy for all your pet’s medications and prescription diets. A full-time, on-site pharmacist and pharmacy staff are available to answer your drug-specific questions. To contact the pharmacy, click here.
Pet Loss Support and Counseling
When a companion animal passes away, their loss is felt by the entire family. The following links can be helpful for parents struggling to find a way to comfort their child, or themselves, during the bereavement process.