What is a Veterinary Radiation Oncologist?
A board certified specialist in radiation oncology is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in all aspects of the use of radiation to treat cancer in veterinary patients. A veterinary radiation oncologist has specialized knowledge in the diagnosis of cancer, staging of tumors, development of treatment plans, and the set up and delivery of radiation therapy.
What is Radiation Therapy?
Radiation Therapy works by damaging the DNA within cancer cells and destroying their ability to reproduce. Just as in human medicine, we use a TrueBeam® Radiotherapy System in combination with a CT scan to develop a 3D radiation treatment plan. This is called 3D conformal radiation therapy, which allows us to direct radiation to smaller and tighter fields, angle the radiation beam from multiple directions, and use other modifications to the plan to conform the radiation dose so that treatment is localized to the affected area and healthy tissue is not damaged. Radiation is administered in a series of small doses over several weeks. For our purposes, the term radiation simply implies the transmission of photons, which are high energy x-rays, through the air and into the body. These photons cannot be seen or felt, nor are they radioactive. The photons pass through the body causing damage to the genetic material inside the cells being treated. This damage can lead to cell death within hours to weeks after the treatment is administered.
TrueBeam® Radiotherapy System: High-Precision Radiotherapy Treatment
The TrueBeam® system brings leading edge cancer care to communities by positioning clinics at the forefront in the fight against cancer. Designed from the ground up to treat moving targets with advanced speed and accuracy, the TrueBeam® platform is a fully-integrated system for image-guided radiotherapy and radiosurgery. The TrueBeam® system treats cancer anywhere in the body where radiation treatment is indicated, including lung, breast, prostate and head and neck.
The number of physicians adopting advanced treatments like Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) is rising. Technologies such as motion management, integrated imaging and high dose rates are some of the tools that are required for the delivery of advanced treatments like stereotactic body radiation therapy. The TrueBeam® system channels innovative, intelligent, and intuitive thinking to provide technology built with the customer in mind. The system offers clinicians intelligent tools for a wide spectrum of advanced treatment options including SBRT. From fast imaging to accurate dose delivery, TrueBeam® is designed to help clinicians navigate the complexities of cancer care with confidence.
The carefully guided, automated workflow on the TrueBeam® system uses intuitive visual cues to enhance safety and reduce operation times so patient throughput can be optimized. Streamlined imaging and patient positioning tools enable more flexibility to treat clinical cases throughout the body. Having the power to not only treat quickly, but to deliver high, accurate dose rates are hallmarks of the TrueBeam® system. Because TrueBeam® is driven by reliability and has a clear technology road map, it is a secure long term investment for clinics as they continue to grow and evolve. With a track record of technology upgrades from Advanced IGRT, PerfectPitch, and Edge technology options, clinics worldwide have already adopted the TrueBeam® system to help advance the way cancer is treated.
When is Radiation Therapy used?
Radiation Therapy is used in multiple clinical situations but is predominantly used for localized tumors that have not spread to other areas of the body. Sometimes, it can result in a cure for these tumors or long term tumor control. Radiation therapy can be used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy in a multi-modal approach or radiation therapy can be used to treat cancers that cannot be surgically excised or are not affected by chemotherapy. Our team of medical experts work together to determine the best course of treatment for each individual patient.
What Kinds of Cancers Respond Well to Radiation Therapy?
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Oncologist?
Just as in humans, a pet with cancer typically needs the help of an oncologist to help diagnose and treat their disease. Above all, a veterinary oncologist will help you understand your pet's condition, what treatment options are available to them and what the expected outcomes may be. They will help you determine the most appropriate course of treatment that meets the needs of you and your pet and facilitate their therapy. Veterinary oncologists also frequently serve as consultants to veterinarians in private practice to ensure that their patients receive the best treatment possible for their cancer. You can be assured that a veterinarian who refers you and your pet to a veterinary oncologist is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her illness.
While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with the veterinary oncologist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the veterinary oncologist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Board certified veterinary oncologists also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools such as radiation therapy machines that a general practice veterinarian may not have.
My Pet Has Cancer. Now What?
Cancer does appear to be becoming more common in pets. The most important point to realize about this dreaded disease is that, just as in people, many forms of the disease can be easily treated, managed, and even cured. Early detection and specialized care are leading to increased survival in almost all the types of cancers that afflict pets. From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation therapy, veterinary cancer specialists can offer your pet the very latest diagnostic and treatment options and the best chance of survival. With optimal treatment, cancer in many cases simply becomes another manageable chronic disease.
If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it is important not to become overwhelmed. Ask your veterinarian to write down the most important points for you to review later. Be efficient with time as early treatment and/or education may minimize stress and any unnecessary side effects in your pet. However, be aware that most cancers are not considered emergencies. Your veterinarian will advise you of which you pet may have. Regardless, do not procrastinate. You will either want to have your general veterinarian work in consultation with a veterinary oncologist, or refer you to a veterinary oncology specialist as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet, please feel free to call us at 972-267-8300.