We are honored that you have chosen us for the treatment of your pet. Our mission is to provide state-of-the-art, compassionate cancer care for animals while teaching veterinary students, interns and residents about the safe and proper diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The treatments available for cancer increase constantly, and we are proud to provide cutting-edge treatments in mid-Missouri.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Please contact our hospital at 573-882-7821 to schedule an appointment with the Oncology Service. New patient appointments are available Mondays through Wednesdays at 10 and 11 a.m. and Thursdays at 9, 10 and 11 a.m.
We recommend that you either bring your pet’s medical records with you to the appointment or have them faxed to us at 573-884-0705 prior to the appointment. This includes biopsy reports, cytology reports, radiographs (X-rays), laboratory results and any other pertinent information regarding your pet’s health. Please bring a list of your pet’s current medications and special diets with you to the appointment. If you have any questions regarding your pet’s appointment you may ask to speak with one of the oncology technicians. Please be advised that legally we are unable to make recommendations or give specific treatment options until we have examined your pet.
Prior to your appointment, you may wish to think about or even write down your goals, concerns and expectations regarding treating your pet’s cancer.
Please do not feed your pet breakfast the morning of your appointment in case procedures requiring sedation are recommended. Water is typically fine until 6 a.m. the day of the appointment. If this is a concern for you or your pet is diabetic, please contact our oncology technicians.
We also request that you not allow your pet to urinate before coming into the building, as we may want to collect a urine sample for evaluation.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Upon arrival at the VHC, please check in at the front desk. The receptionists will page the student assigned to your case. If no one has greeted you within 10 minutes of your scheduled appointment time, do not hesitate to ask the receptionists to alert the oncology technician.
Once your student caregiver greets you, typically you and your pet will go to an examination room where the student will collect a complete history of your pet’s health. Emphasis will be on the recent history. Questions will include:
- When did the problem start, or when did you first notice the tumor?
- What clinical signs is your pet showing as a result of this problem?
- How has the problem/tumor progressed since it was first noticed?
- Have any treatments been given?
- Did they help?
- Are the treatments still being given?
Additionally it will be important for us to know your goals for the day and if you have any limitations on your time.
After the student has collected this information, a physical examination will be performed. Please let us know ahead of time if there are any procedures your pet will resist. Some pets will bite or scratch if an examination or certain procedures are performed, and it is in the best interest of your pet as well as the safety of our staff if you address this in advance.
When the examination is complete, the student will leave the room and discuss your pet with one of the oncology clinicians. This takes approximately 15 minutes, but sometimes lasts longer for more complicated cases. The clinician will return with the student, perform their own examination, answer any questions about the medical information and discuss a plan of action with you.
Often we request some time to perform needed initial tests such as bloodwork or radiographs (X-rays). We will give you an estimate of the time required to complete these tests. It is important to understand that as a teaching institution we have many specialty services operating at the same time. Sometimes it can take even several hours to complete these tests because the hospital is caring for many animals at the same time.
The first time a pet is seen by oncology, it may take most of the day to complete the needed procedures. You are welcome in almost all instances to step out and run errands, return to work or pick up some lunch while you are waiting. It is helpful if you can provide a phone number so we know how to reach you during your absence. If you leave, please check in at the front desk when you return. Even if you tell us you will be back at a given time, we may not realize you are waiting until the front desk pages us.
Once all needed tests and procedures are completed, we will meet with you to review the findings and plan further tests or treatments. Depending on the type of testing that has been performed, it sometimes can take two to three days to gather the information needed to choose the best treatment option for your pet. We will review all options with you and discuss the benefits and risks. It is helpful for some clients to write down questions they have throughout the visit so that each can be addressed when we meet with you. Sometimes surgery is recommended, and an appointment is scheduled for you to return to meet directly with the surgery team and admit your pet for surgery.
If there are any clinical trials for which your pet is eligible, we will discuss them as one of the possibilities. Many clinical trials offer unique and promising new therapies that are not yet available to the general public. In addition, these trials often offer a financial benefit by covering some of the cost of treatment, and the knowledge gained can help many animals for years to come. We only offer trials if we truly feel that your pet is a good candidate.
The oncologist, resident, veterinary student and technician will work with you to develop the best plan for your pet’s treatment. We typically recommend that you plan to be in Columbia the majority of the day so we have time to give your pet the best possible care. We will stay in contact with you periodically throughout the day to update you on your pet’s progress.
We will give you a written estimate of charges prior to initiating any treatments. Payment is required at the time services are rendered. Further information about our payment policies can be found on our Client Billing page.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have prior to your appointment. We look forward to meeting you and your pet.