The most traditional treatment options for a pet with cancer include some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Many of these protocols have proven benefit. However, depending on how they are given, they may also cause significant discomfort or side effects. Any treatment option must be balanced against your pet’s quality of life.
There are treatments that are less routine, but every bit as effective when used in the right situations. For example, some tumors can be treated by cryosurgery (freezing the tumor), while others may benefit from photodynamic therapy (a combination of a dye and laser light). In the right patient these procedures can be more effective and can spare your pet much toxicity.
Chemotherapy can be limited to a small area by implanting a time release form of the drug (bead). In this case the area directly around the bead receives a high dose of drug, while the dose to the rest of the body is minimal. This approach may reduce the need for radical surgery or radiation therapy. It also drastically reduces potential side effects of systemic chemotherapy, because most of the body is exposed to only a minimal dose.
Alternative treatments can be used alone or combined with routine treatments, such as supplementing the diet with omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils DHA and EPA). Modification in your pet’s nutrition may help your pet fight his disease and improve his overall quality of life. Herbal and holistic options can also benefit your pet’s immune system. Other complementary medical approaches include acupuncture and massage therapy. Another approach is to limit the growth of blood vessels that supply the tumor. These methods can be used together with traditional treatments, and may have effectiveness by themselves.
We believe the most important factors to consider are your pet’s quality of life and the care you and your pet receive. People are amazed when their pets actually enjoy coming for treatment. Even if you decide against treatment, we aim to help you become well informed about what to expect, and have a support system that will aid you in your decisions.
Article Provided By Elsa Beck, DVM, Ph.D, DACVIM Oncology and Radiology The Hope Center for Advanced Veterinary Medicine