Surgical removal of a tumor is typically the first important step to treating cancer. Although surgery plays a minor role in treating some cancers that are systemic by nature, such as lymphoma, other cancers, such as soft-tissue sarcomas and mast cell tumors, can be treated with surgery as a sole therapy. For others, surgery is needed to remove the primary tumor and works in conjunction with chemotherapy to then treat the potential for metastasis.
Veterinary oncologic surgeons are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and they have completed a one-year fellowship focusing on cancer surgery. In addition, there are board-certified surgeons who devote a large portion of their practice to cancer surgery but have not done a fellowship.
Learn more about treating cancer with surgery.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs given either by mouth or injection. Chemotherapy for cancer treatment is most often used to limit metastasis, the spread or movement of cancer from the primary/initial site to another site in the body. Another common use is to treat lymphoma, which is a systemic disease in its behavior. Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset and low blood cell counts.
Veterinary oncologists are board certified through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and they focus on diagnosis and treatment planning as well as chemotherapy.
Learn more about treating cancer with chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy is the delivery of energy to the tumor tissue with enough strength to damage DNA, which causes a cell to be unable to divide and create more cells, thus limiting or arresting the growth of a tumor. This requires a specialized machine with dedicated facilities. Radiation treats the area on which it is focused and does not treat a pet for the possibility of metastasis. It is most often used to treat areas where surgery could not re`move the entire tumor.
Veterinary radiation oncologists are board certified through the American College of Veterinary Radiology, and they focus on planning and delivery of radiation to the affected area.
Learn more about treating cancer with radiation.
Electrochemotherapy is the introduction of chemotherapy into the body by intravenous injection or intralesional (directly into the tumor) injection, followed by electrical impulses applied to the tumor or region where the tumor was present. These impulses cause holes to be opened in the membrane of the tumor cells, allowing chemotherapy to reach higher concentration in the cells than would occur without the holes. This approach has proven useful for treating cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas and other tumor types.