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Vascular Access Ports and New Technology Benefits Angell Radiation Patients

Radiation Oncologist Lyndsay Kubicek, DVM, DACVR (Radiation Oncology) specializes in cancers treated with radiation therapy with an emphasis on maintaining a good quality of life for her patients. We caught up with her to talk about proactive pain control, new technology she has introduced at Angell, and her innovative use of vascular access ports for Angell’s Oncology patients.  dr-lynsday-kubicek

What would you most like your referring partners to know?
 “We welcome your questions! There are so many radiation options available today, I want to encourage clinicians to call us anytime to ask questions about radiation therapy, the options, and how we can design a treatment plan that best fits the needs of the patient and client.”

Which tumors are treatable with radiation?
“There are many tumor types that can be treated with radiation: nasal, brain, soft tissue sarcoma cells, prostate, and mast cell, but some of the surprising tumors include heart-based tumors and bladder tumors. Study findings published in 2013 by Michael Nolan, Ph.D. of Colorado State University showed that adding radiation into the treatment of bladder tumors for dogs results in the longest reported survival time, something previously suspected but now supported with documentation.”

What can you tell us about the vascular access ports Angell uses in radiation therapy?
“Angell is the only veterinary hospital in the Boston area that routinely this technique for radiation patients. The vascular access port can be used to administer anesthesia for radiation therapy, for chemotherapy drugs, or even for administering fluids. Using these ports allows for shorter treatment sessions and far greater comfort for the patient.  It eliminates the need (or time/discomfort involved) for daily catheter placement and consequently eliminates the need for sedation. Clients are frequently happy to take their pets home following radiation treatments without the after-effects of sedation. We use the vascular access ports for all of our patients receiving full course radiation. Used for both cats and dogs, it is a great benefit for cats with small veins for whom placing an IV catheter can be difficult.”

Tell us about some of the other new technologies unique to Angell.
“IMRT, or Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy minimizes side effects by sculpting the radiation treatment beam to the exact size and dimensions of the tumor. IMRT is currently available at Angell. We have also introduced Stereotactic therapy, or Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), in which very high doses of radiation are delivered using a precise beam to the site of the tumor. The high dosage

Dr. Kubicek handles one of the Vascular Access Ports used in Angell's radiation therapy protocol.

Dr. Kubicek handles one of the Vascular Access Ports used in Angell’s radiation therapy protocol.

allows for fewer treatment sessions (3 or 4 instead of 18-20), making the treatment less risky. Angell is also unique and fortunate to have an Anesthesiology service to oversee the anesthetic care and needs of irradiated patients to provide an additional level of safety and comfort. We also have the benefit of an in-house Pathology service and exceptional surgeons with whom we can work as a team to devise the most effective treatment plan.” oncology_team

What is your philosophy about pain control?
“The technology we use has come so far – we use the same technology here [at Angell] as the [human medicine] medical schools use down the street. I’m big into proactive pain control – we want to prevent pain before it starts. It’s important that the pet is comfortable throughout the therapy. That’s why we are always updating our technological approaches – to improve the quality of life.”

What is the ratio of palliative vs. curative cases you treat with radiation?
“It is about 50/50. One of the best tools for pain relief — whether bone pain or soft tissue pain — is radiation. When incorporated into the pain relief protocol, radiation can provide tremendous relief. It is unknown precisely how or why it works, but it is thought that its ability to numb the nerves in the area is the primary source of relief.”

Where did you grow up? Did you always want to be a Radiation Oncologist?
“I grew up in Taunton, MA. I completed my undergraduate degree in Medical Laboratory Science at Northeastern University, but was undecided whether to continue on to medical school or veterinary school. My advisor suggested that I volunteer with animals to see if that was the right choice for me. It was! I ended up volunteering at Angell in 2002 and from that experience I knew that veterinary school was the right choice. Later, when I had to decide between a clinical path and oncology, I came back to Angell for rotations.”

What do you like about what you do?
“I love working in oncology because of the relationships I build with clients and patients. I also enjoy working with other departments – cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, dermatology and surgery, to name a few – to help provide the best care for the patient. You can’t treat cancer with just one therapy and be successful. The interdisciplinary approach helps provide the best service possible. It makes Angell stand out.”

Dr. Lyndsay Kubicek completed a residency in radiation oncology at the University of Wisconsin in 2012, and joined Angell in May 2014. Prior to her start at Angell, Dr. Kubicek was a clinical assistant professor at the University of Florida where she was their first radiation oncologist and developed their radiation program. She specializes in cancers treated with radiation therapy with an emphasis on maintaining a good quality of life. Dr. Kubicek has extensive training in intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) therapy.

Radiation therapy options offered at Angell Animal Medical center include palliative and definitive therapies using photon and electron beams. We are proud to announce we will be soon offering intensity modulated radiation therapy and stereotactic therapy for select tumors.

Dr. Kubicek is available to referring veterinarians for phone or email consultations. To contact the Oncology service directly for an appointment please call 617-541-5136 or email oncology@angell.org 

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